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On tap: Tap Dogs an Australian blend with working class roots

by Marie Male

ST. JACOBS - The world of tap dance has been rocked. There is no going back, except maybe to see it again.

Mr. Bojangles, you would have been proud. The body be­comes a musical instrument in Tap Dogs as only glimpsed before.

Drayton Entertainment has brought the most successful tap show of all time to the stage at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Six male tap dancers use everything but the kitchen sink to create a rocking spectacle of dance, music, theatre and laughter.

Only theatre etiquette will stop the audience from tapping in the aisles.

This rougher, blue collar, macho group of tappers has reinvented that dance form. It is the new “let’s build that shed, have a few beers and do some tappin” set.

They commu­nicate, create and compete through tapping in their Blundstone Original 505 boots.

It is all dance, with a profusion of flying sweat and labour disclaimed by the ever pristine Fred Astaire set. The audience is cognizant of that hard work at all times; the dancers’ facial features never denying the work involved.

The energy ex­pended by these performers is incredible; two minutes of their exertions might be fatal to the average audience member. However, they have managed quite a feat by making tap dancing seem natural, fun, and even joyful.

The Tap Dogs troupe origi­nated in Australia. The show was premiered at the Sydney Theatre Festival in January 1995 and it has since performed in 330 cities world wide. 

Tap Dogs was created  by award-winning choreog­ra­pher Dein Perry, who learned to dance at a makeshift dance school in a small Australian town along with a some of the future Dogs.  He worked as an industrial machinist for six years before he made his mark in show business, and we see those roots on the stage.

The percussive set is a construction site created by well known Australian de­signer and director Nigel Triffitt. The tappers use ropes, scaffolding, welding torches and varying site platforms to ply their trade and taps. Performer Travis Knights even taps upside down - suspended by ropes.

The performers are an ap­pealing and unpretentious group. No words are spoken but their personalities are con­veyed through movement. Audience interaction is main­tained with good spirits and eye contact. Providing much of the above is Nathan Sheens, a seasoned original cast member who has toured the world with the show.

Sheldon Perry, Dein's broth­er, was Sydney tap champion by the age of 10 and seems born to tap. Dean Magri is from London, England and  Ryan Gif­ford is a Drayton Enter­tainment musical favourite. MacKenzie Green­well and Dominic Mortezadeh are new to Drayton Enter­tainment but evidently lifelong dancers. 

The opening night per­formance drew not one but three standing ovations by a rather wet but happy audience. 

Tap Dogs plays eight shows a week through June 26 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Tickets can be ordered by calling 519-747-7788 or 1-888-449-4463, or visit­jac­obs­


Vol 43 Issue 24


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