The Tap Pack

The Tap Pack
Directed by Nigel Turner- Carroll. The Arts Centre Gold Coast. November 11, 2017, and touring.

I’d like to say Tap is back - but the truth is it never went away.

However, The Tap Pack is back after their triumphs overseas, and it’s been worth the wait.

In a theatre climate which sees us all looking for subtext and meaning in theatre, The Tap Pack is pure entertainment of a very high standard, and that’s something of a rarity these days. Stunningly directed by co-creator Nigel Turner-Carroll, the production sits somewhere between theatre and cabaret and could just as easily be appreciated in a swishy showroom, a basement club or a concert hall or theatre.

The lighting is excellent and the set - a bar-room with a sectioned staircase - works a treat. The sound was also excellent, though balancing four radio mikes led to a few minor glitches.

The four performers bring totally different personalities to the stage. Jordan Pollard has the most relaxed stage persona and also the most audience command and (arguably) the best singing voice. He’s also very funny, all the while looking like your local bank manager. Sean Mulligan brings a certain style and élan from his time on the West End stage, Thomas J Egan is physically funny and endearing in a slightly Geeky way, and Jesse Rasmussen gives the impression of a charismatic terpsichorean hit man when he dances, mostly the silent type but with machine gun feet.

The first half of the show is somewhat standard, incorporating their tribute to the original Rat Pack, and playing to the punters penchant for nostalgia. There are a lot of old numbers (and a few newer) and the group tap routines are beautifully rehearsed and synchronised in unison. It’s so slick and professional that the moments of good-natured humour - some of which are laugh out loud funny - are a welcome interruption to prove the guys are indeed human. There’s an outstanding percussive routine with cocktail shakers and glasses at the bar, once again highlighting how beautifully rehearsed the show is. There are slick big band arrangements – though pre-recorded – and a wonderful sense of nostalgia.

But it’s the second half that is awe-inspiring for dance lovers.

Though all four dancers know their stuff, Rassmussen and Egan are simply outstanding in their a capella routines. It’s here that you can hear every single beat that the band tends to mask, and Egan’s improvised routine, which just kept on building to impossible heights, is one of the most memorable I have seen. Rasmussen’s tribute to the dancers who influenced him shows not only spectacular technique, but astonishing style, and style is 50% of the package – as Fosse proved time after time. And if you watch the Happy Feet movies with the kids, it’s Rasmussen you are watching dance. These two are spectacular.

There’s no way to fault this as entertainment, and the demographic at the ACGC proved that this is a show for all ages. It’s warm and endearing and feel good. No matter what else it might be, the FIRST obligation of any show is to entertain - and The Tap Pack succeeds on all levels.

Coral Drouyn

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