Those who grew up watching Arthur Duncan on The Lawrence Welk Show know that he is a remarkable performer who has left an inspiring showbiz legacy. Energetic and charming, he introduced a generation to the art of tap dancing on Welk’s “Champagne Music” series for 18 years, from 1964 to the final curtain call in 1982. Plus he broke barriers being the first African-American regular on a variety show.
Nowadays Duncan’s a living legend song and dance man who is still entertaining audiences around the world. And upcoming (April 1, 2 and 3) he’ll be bringing his feel-good show “Arthur Duncan: One More Time,” to the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, California.
The classy entertainer reported, “I’ve been having fun and enjoying life with a very busy schedule traveling and performing this year. The day after my show at the El Portal, I fly to Oklahoma City on April 4, where I’ll be teaching and performing at The University of Central Oklahoma for the week.”
At the beginning of the year Duncan entertained in Palm Desert at the McCallum Theatre and at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in California. “They were special shows, the ‘Reunion of the Champagne Music Makers.’ Both were sold out. Recently it seems I’ve been everywhere, performing in Houston and then on to Australia. I was the headliner entertaining on the Crystal Serenity world cruise. Like the song goes ‘What A Wonderful World.’ And ‘yes,’ I do that number in my show.”
No matter where he performs each audience gets Duncan’s very best. He said, “I share my energy with the audience and they share their energy with me. The energy bounces back and forth, and that’s what makes each performance special, no two audiences are the same. I always look to see the faces in the crowd, smiling and laughing. I want everyone to know I’m performing just for them.”
Over the decades Duncan has traveled throughout Europe and around the world gathering an international following. “I’ll always be grateful to Henry Mancini and Nick Castle for helping me put together my first solo nightclub show. I toured the world, and I’ve met some extraordinary people, VIPs, royalty and wonderful fans. Betty White had me on her show early in my career and was very supportive.”
Duncan went on several USO tours with Bob Hope. He toured with Tommy Tune in My One and Only, and appeared on his buddy Dick Van Dyke’s series Diagnosis Murder. Also Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines were friends and he joined them in the dance movie Tap. Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center have also seen his fancy footwork.
Born in Pasadena, California, one of 13 children, Duncan explained, “Dance is an international language. You can express happiness and passion and just feel good. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, people understand that. I was in Japan doing a show and teaching master tap classes and there wasn’t any communication problem when we all began to dance. Music and dance is a form of therapy as well.”
During his performances he presents a variety of songs and dance numbers that rekindle wonderful memories and stories about his life. He performs with the Lenny La Croix trio, and the show has video highlights. “I appreciate that I’ve had a long career in show business and my show reflects that,” he said. Like the song “I’ve Got To Be Me,” Duncan’s musical cabaret show is a reflection of his own identity.
“I always give the crowd what they want. I do a lot of the classic song and dance routines from The Lawrence Welk Show. And there are always some surprising new numbers. I’m here to spread happiness, that’s what I want to do,” said the remarkable entertainer.
For tickets for the April 1, 2, and 3 performances of “Arthur Duncan: One More Time,” go to www.elportaltheatre.com. #