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Review: Tap Dogs

High-Adrenaline, Full-Voltage Tap Tour kicks off in SA!

by Louw Mulder

After kicking myself in 2013 for only seeing the show once, I was delighted to have learnt that Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs would return to South Africa this year, to showcase the very best in Tap at Montecasino’s Teatro as well as a limited run in Cape Town. This week, I had the privilege to once again witness this high energetic dance show, which taps right into your soul.

Tap Dogs was founded by two-time Olivier winner Dein Perry, and since their World Premiere in January 1995, has toured continuously throughout the world, appearing in more than 330 cities on six continents with sometimes up to four companies touring at a given time. Now, to kick-start their 2018/19 tour, Cape Town, and now Johannesburg, made South-Africa the first country in this series.

Featuring six male tap dancers and two female musicians, Tap Dogs is a high-adrenaline, full-voltage experience which combines the art of tap dance, with an industrial infused theatre experience, highlighted by loud sounds, which are characterized by rhythm and beats. I believe that the Tap Dancing alone would not have been so successful on its own, but when adding it to the idea of Tap Dogs, the lights, the participating sets of the theatre and the entire production as a whole, it deserves all the accolades it has received.

The art of Tap Dancing is showed-off and showcased on various industrial sets, with the inclusion of scaffolding, inclining beams, ramps, ladders, and even a show-stopping scene where six basketballs are used in complete rhythmic balance to the tap. Off course, humour and water is also a part of this show, and to turn things on its head, some suspended up-side-down tapping can also be witnessed live on stage.  The Tap Dogs in this tour, feature Anthony Russo, Nathanial Hancock, Richie Miller, Chaise Rosseillo, Justin Myles, Reid Perry, Sam Marks and Nathan Beech, with the drumming girls, as Noriko Terada and Catarina Percinio.

Tap DogsI had the privilege of attending one of Tap Dogs’ rehearsals, where I had the opportunity to chat to some of the Dogs, as well as their founder, Dein Perry. The reason why this show is so popular, and how it’s gone from strength to strength, is that no show is the same.

Tap Dogs is an evolving production and always has been. We developed the set that was perfect for the show, so what we do, we build on the show, sometimes remove stuff and then add stuff. We are always updating and evolving the show as we come up with better ideas as we go. In a sense, the show becomes stronger as we move along.” Dane Perry told me.

“We tried girls too once” he added humorously: “But it didn’t have the same sort of dynamics. Tap Dogs has its six guys on stage with their different characters and sort of stuff, and once we brought other elements into it, we found the show to loose dynamics. We continue to build and work on these characterisations so the show will never be, nor has it ever been, finished. We are already talking about the next best thing to add to the show” Dein Perry said.

In South Africa, 2013, the role of Kid was played by Nathanial Hancock, who started tapping from the age of six. Hancock saw Tap Dogs in Australia for the first time when he was 10, and knew that this is what he would love to do. After touring with this production now for the last eight years, he tapped himself up to the role of 2IC, the role in which South Africans can see him in this time around.

Reid PerryThe role of Kid in this World Tour, is tapped by 20 year old Reid Perry, son of the boss, who has been dancing with his dad since a young age.  His impressive talents and fire in this production are shown visibly, and his own contributions are well deserved in its own right.

Joining the Tap Dogs team in 2016, Reid had his first international performance on South African soil, during the opening of their recent Cape Town run, marking his 10th performance during opening night in Johannesburg.   When I asked him if he will take over from Mr Perry Senior, he only said: “Right now, I just want to fit into the show as much as I can, and enjoy it while I can.”

Tap Dogs is one of those International Touring productions you have to see, as it is much spoken off and well-remembered after the final tap. This time, I am not making the same mistake of only seeing it once…

Tap Dogs is a 90-minute energy rush, without an interval, and will run at the Teatro in Montecasino until 16 September 2018, after which it will continue its world tour to Saudi Arabia.

 

This review contains amateur video material, taken during a rehearsal in Johannesburg.
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