Tap dancing talent featured in 'A Wonderful World' musical at Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Tap dancing on display at 'A Wonderful World' musical in Chicago
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Master tap dancer DeWitt Fleming Jr. performs in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre with the new musical 'A Wonderful World.'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "A Wonderful World" is a new musical playing on Broadway in Chicago, and the show features impressive dance talent.

Master tap dancer DeWitt Fleming Jr. portrays Stepin Fetchit in the musical, that is playing now at the Cadillac Palace theatre.

Stepin Fetchit is a character who was created by actor Lincoln Perry in the Vaudeville era. Perry was the first Black actor to get a screen credit and make a million dollars.

Fleming said he's thrilled to play the gifted, controversial performer.

"I was afraid at first, just because of what you hear about him, and so I just dug deep," Fleming said. "I did a bunch of research and I am honored and proud to play this man. He was just a brilliant man. He was so much more than what we saw in films and TV. He was the first to do a lot of things, and opened doors for a lot of people."

Fleming shows off his tap-dancing skills in in the show and he also choreographed a show-stopping number. Stepin Fetchit is described as an expert "hoofer" in the show.

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"A Wonderful World" is about the life of music legend Louis Armstrong. He and Lincoln Perry achieved fame and fortune in the same era of entertainment.

Fleming said he learned a lot about his character while preparing for the role.

"He made everyone believe that he was ignorant, and illiterate. Black folks at the time, they knew what was up," Fleming said. "They knew the game, they knew what he was doing, and that's why they liked him so much. The majority of his audience were Black folks. They got the character he was playing. He was a character pretending to be stupid and lazy, in order to not do what they were trying to make him do."

The city of Chicago happens to have a connection to the character's story

"He wrote for the Chicago Defender. He wrote an entertainment review column," Fleming said. "He was like the inside eye onto Hollywood for Black folks."

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Fleming said he loves telling the story on the stage at the Cadillac Palace theatre.

"When you step into this theatre, it's like you're stepping into a palace," Fleming said. "It's royal, it's beautiful and I love the house. It's intimate so you can feel the audience."

"A Wonderful World" is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through Oct. 29. before going to Broadway in New York.