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Reviews/Musical Theatre

From the iconic to the electric

9 July 2019

Review: The Tap Pack ·
Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre 3 July ·
Review by Xan Ashbury ·

While it’s fair to say I am not the The Tap Pack’s target audience, I understand the pull of nostalgia. Why else would I have lovingly crafted a Chet to Chet Mixtape, which alternates tracks by Chet Baker and Chet Faker?

The show bills itself as “picking up where the Rat Pack left off”. The problem is that I grew up with the Brat Pack, rather than the Rat Pack. I’m more likely to read Molly Ringwald’s column in The Guardian and sigh “what a legend”, than swoon over 50s crooners.

Iconic songs by Frank Sinatra et al are punctuated by modern classics. Again, I realised I was out of my depth. While the enthusiastic audience clearly knew the words and enjoyed the witty interplay between old and new, I had to Google key lyrics at interval to identify songs such as “Thinking Out Loud” by someone called Ed Sheeran and “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble…

Fortunately, the performers’ magnetic movements and electric footwork compensated for my lack of pop culture knowledge. The cast (Jordan Pollard, Thomas J Egan, Sean Mulligan and Tom Struik) each have a string of musical theatre, film and TV credits to their name and it’s impossible not to be in awe of their dedication to the art of tap.

The show really had me enthralled when the performers combined the syncopated rhythms of their feet with other forms of percussion, such as drumming onto a large bar at the back of the stage. A truly aural and visual spectacle.

Mulligan’s improvised dances were also a crowd pleaser, as well as his tribute to Ginger Rogers, who, as he reminded the audience, had to do everything backwards and in high heels.

But the star for me was the show’s co-creator, Pollard. From his impersonations of Fred Astaire to a dancing penguin, he somehow manages to appear spontaneous yet superhuman. It is staggering.

My theatre-loving 11-year-old-son accompanied to the show. His verdict? “While I can appreciate their incredible skill, there’s not much of a story.” I think he’s right. The repartee linking the numbers felt a bit forced.

Since seeing the show, though, he’s been dancing around the kitchen with some fancy footwork and enthusiastic finger clicking; I’ve been checking out Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers clips on Youtube.

As Sinatra sang, they can’t take that away from me.

Photo: Daniel Boud

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Author —
Xan Ashbury

Xan Ashbury is a teacher who spent a decade writing for newspapers and magazines in Australia and the UK. She won the Shorelines Writing for Performance Prize in 2014-17. Her favourite piece of playground equipment is the flying fox.

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