Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tap Tap and more Tap

The Adorable Tap Pack Boys. Photo Nicole Cleary.
Not sure why, but all of a sudden there seems to be a lot of tap dancing going on in Melbourne. Well, three shows within six weeks, which is high quantity when there have not been any in years! I'm reminded of how many really good tappers are around - no mean feat as tap dancing is a seriously hard genre to pull off.

So first it was The Tap Pack at Chapel Off Chapel. Have to admit, I had no idea what I was going to see and was expecting something amateurish. Boy was I very pleasantly surprised! It was truly fantastic, totally feel-good and full of extremely virtuosic tapping across a range of styles. It's got serious potential to be a much bigger show that could easily play to much bigger houses. I hope it goes places because it certainly deserves to.

Click here for my review of The Tap Pack in the Herald Sun on 26 July 2013.

Ensemble of Hot Shoe Shuffle. Photo News Ltd.
On the theme of male tapping ensembles, Hot Shoe Shuffle opened Saturday night. Well, a revival opened Saturday night. It's the baby of David Atkins, who, these days, is an Australian choreographic icon. Hot Shoe Shuffle was his big tap musical that toured the country and internationally twenty years ago.

It's classic musical theatre stuff - think 42nd Street. Set in New York,  the cast is rehearsing for a show, broad accents, stock characters...you get the idea. Narrative aside, Hot Shoe Shuffle has lots of classic tap to familiar songs like Song & Dance Man, Puttin' on the Ritz, Ain't Misbehavin'. It's the stuff people know and love and it's great to watch.

As an entire show, the highlight is the last 35 minutes - the big show-within-a-show where the scrim lifts to reveal a big band and a huge flight of curved stairs a la 1940s New York jazz club. The dress is tuxedos and glittery frocks (for lone female April - Jaz Flowers) accompanying a medley of great song and dance. Up to this section, the action has been fairly hammy musical theatre (not there's anything wrong with that). So by the time this spectacular, pure music and happy feet climax occurs it's really special and glamourous.

Atkins performs with a cast of seven enthusiastic young guys who are well-matched in terms of ability and personalities. Flowers is an all-around triple threat, with especially strong vocals which get better as she goes, culminating in her solo, How Long Has This Been Going On.

Click here for my review of Hot Shoe Shuffle in the Herald Sun on 13 August 2013.

Stay tuned for the next tap show, Bang! Crash! Tap! at the Fairfax theatre, Arts Centre Melboure opening 11 September 2013. Sounds like a tap dance meets break dance extravaganza from a young Aussie and British crew.

The Tap Pack, 21 July - 04 August, Chapel Off Chapel
Hot Shoe Shuffle, 10 - 25 August, Her Majesty's Theatre