Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney
By Nicole Saleh.
What began as an idea penned on a napkin 12 months ago, The Tap Pack came to life and premiered as part of the annual Dance Bites season at the Riverside Theatre, Western Sydney, in a fun, stylish and energy packed hour long show.
Created by seasoned Australian performers Jesse Rasmussen (Tap Dogs, Hot Shoe Shuffle, Happy Feet and So You Think You Can Dance), Thomas J Egan (Fame, Tap Dogs, The Boy From Oz) and Jordan Pollard (Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, The Addams Family), and inspired by the original ‘Rat Pack’ of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr, the Tap Pack’s group of five classy guys in their suits and ties took to the stage with the same sense of cool confidence as their predecessors.
With a loose storyline, narrated by performer Dion Bilios, we followed the journey of five very different characters performed by Rohan Browne, Kuki Tipoki and creators Jesse and Thomas, who worked through their own personal struggles, addictions, and strained friendships in their quest to get their show picked up by a Las Vegas producer.
Backed by The Tap Pack Bandits, a strong six piece band of drums, horns and keys, led by Musical Director Chris King, the five guys crooned classic big band numbers including ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’ and ‘Lady is a Tramp’ but also added a contemporary twist with Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget You’. Comedic humour was threaded throughout the show with some cliché jokes and slapstick gags that had the audience amused and laughing out loud.
The definite highlight of the show, as its title suggests, is the tap dancing which was fast, intricate, rhythmical and entertaining. Whether it was creating beats as background music to their dialogue, or the challenging routines using pool cue sticks instead of canes, all five performers did a fantastic job of delivering complex cross rhythms and showcasing the creativity of this art form.
In a strong solo performance, Thomas wowed the audience with his acapella tapping and the ease in which he delivered difficult tricks with his fast footwork. His rhythms were smooth and his turning combination had speed and clarity. Jesse Rasmussen also delivered a memorable solo paying homage to the tap legends who have gone before; Gregory Hines, Fred Astaire and Jimmy Slyde.
Overall, all five performers delivered charismatic performances and finished the show on a fun note, dressed in leopard print shirts for the big tap finale. This show has great potential and gave audiences a taste of what The Tap Pack is all about.