Creators: Jesse Rasmussen, Jordan Pollard and Thomas J Egan
Director: Nigel Turner-Carroll
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
The chances are that this show is critic-proof. If you like tap dancing, and if you like swing, it won’t matter too much what the papers say about this old-fashioned fusion of dance and song. But fortunately, the talent on the stage will break the chagrin of any naysayer.
The Tap Pack are five men from Australia who dance, sing and juggle to music made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin from the 1960s. All dressed to the nines, in smart suits and matching fedoras, the men glide and tap their ways through songs such as Fly Me to the Moon, Night and Day, and That’s Life. With a four-piece band on stage, Sean Mulligan, the eldest of the five guys, is the lead singer of the show, and is ably supported by Ben Brown and it’s always surprising that after a high-octane, spectacular tap dance routine, the two have puff enough to launch into the next song.
Their voices may not be the best, and perhaps Feeling Goodis just an octave too high for Mulligan, but they complement the dancing seamlessly, and the boys don’t disappoint in this department. Jesse Rasmussen is the most watchable here, with his cheeky impersonations of Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis Jr. There’s something very Hollywood about his approach: he’d be the perfect dancing gangster. He also encourages audience participation with his wonderful call-and-response routine. However, it’s Thomas J Egan who brings the house down after his crazy and imaginative impro, shuffling, tapping and spinning across the stage, creating his own rhythm.
Indeed, the only offbeat in this show is the patter in between numbers. Scripted to the hilt, their talk is awkward and almost offensively out-dated. As we negotiate new gender relations in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, Tap Pack’s opening words seem thoughtlessly out of place. ‘Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen’ Mulligan begins ‘and all those who are obstacles to the ladies.’ Later on Brown calls upon the ‘Ladies of London’ to decide the next song and then tells us he’s a fan of Aussie Rules Footy. The men seem so eager to prove their heterosexuality that the show is danger of becoming hen-party fodder, along with acts like The Chippendales. It’s not just that they are alienating the men in the audience; this machismo will also make the women feel uncomfortable. This is a shame as The Tap Pack are better than that.
Despite these reservations, their talent, especially in the set routines when all five are dancing, ensures that you end up forgiving them for their off-key words. It’s the dancing – the rat-a-tat-tat – we’ve come to see, and this is what they’re best at.
Runs until 19 May 2018 | Image: Contributed