The Tap Pack

The Tap Pack
Created by Jesse Rassmussen, Jordan Pollard and Thomas J. Egan. Directed by Nigel Turner-Carol. Canberra Theatre. 6 May 2023. Touring to Brisbane and Sydney in July

This show is sheer exhilaration, a celebration of that magic that happens when rhythm meets movement, presented on a bed of retro cool and a side of daggy schtick. Tap is unique, combining dance and percussion in a way that uses the entire body as an instrument. If it’s an instrument, four of these guys are virtuosos, and two have the voices of angels (if angels wore fedoras).

The Tap Pack was created by Jesse Rassmussen, Jordan Pollard and Tommy Egan to celebrate their shared love of the Rat Pack. While this show takes inspiration from the dance and music of Dean Martin, Sammy David Jr. and Frank Sinatra, there is a distinctly Australian flavour especially to the laid-back style and self-depreciating humour (although I imagine they will pick on Queensland a bit less once they get to Brisbane). The casualness of the banter contrasts with the magnificent acrobatic tap numbers, which are accompanied by big band swing, cool 60s lounge, 70s stadium rock, through to modern R and B.

The guys are having great fun and their enthusiasm for the work glows through the show. There were near perfect vignettes in homage of dance heros Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Sammy Davis Jr. Ben Brown’s and Thomas McGuane’s voice battle between the swing standards and post-2000 hits forms a clever mashup. There were nods to the percussion dance outfit Stomp with cleaning equipment and a rhythm perfect piece that involved juggled pool cues used percussion. But the three pieces that took my breath away were a lovely, mellow soft-shoe sand shuffle, a beautiful solo to Brubeck’s Take Five (with its technically challenging time signature), and Tommy Egan’s mind-blowingly brilliant improvised solo, inspired by the earliest dancers, where he extracted maximum rhythm for minimum movement.

Love tap? You’ll adore The Tap Pack. Don’t love tap? Go along and see what you’ve been missing.

Cathy Bannister

Subscribe to our E-Newsletter, buy our latest print edition or find a Performing Arts book at Book Nook.