BWW REVIEW: Testosterone Fuels Riveting TAP DOGS at Hanover Theatre in Worcester
UPDATE as of 4/12/19 from Hanover Theatre:
Unfortunately, due to medical issues sustained by several cast members, all remaining performances of Tap Dogs have been canceled. We sincerely apologize and thank you for understanding that, due to the nature of live theater, occasionally things happen that are beyond our control.
Refunds will be processed by the box office over the next several days and may take a few additional business days to reflect on your statement depending on your bank's processing times. If you purchased your tickets in person at the box office by cash or check please call the box office at 877.571.SHOW (7469) to arrange your refund.
Creator, Dein Perry; lighting design, Gavin Norris; sound design, Andy Jackson; music, Andrew Wilkie; music production engineering and additional orchestration, Laurence Maddy; original director, Nigel Triffitt; musical director, Joe Accaria; associate director, James Doubtfire
Dancers: Anthony Russo, Foreman; Nathaniel Hancock, 21C; Richie Miller, Enforcer; Chaise Rossiello, Funky; Justin Myles, Rat; Reid Perry, Kid; Nathan Beech, Spot; Sam Marks, Rover (those appearing at the reviewed performance are in bold)
Musicians: Noriko Terada and Caitlin Kalafus
Performances and Tickets: Now through April 14, Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge Street, Worcester, Mass.; tickets start at $34 and are available at the Box Office, online at TheHanoverTheatre.org, or by phone at 877-571-7469.
There are times when the percussion in TAP DOGS, the testosterone-fueled tap dance extravaganza now at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester through April 14, is so penetrating that your diaphragm literally pulses in rhythm to the beat. A workman-themed sound and dance performance that seems like the love child of STOMP and BLUE MAN GROUP, TAP DOGS combines the athleticism of urban gladiators with the precision of six-part (and 12-footed) harmony to deliver a thrilling 75 minutes of non-stop tap invention.
Anthony Russo, Nathaniel Hancock, Chaise Rossiello, Justin Myles, Reid Perry and Sam Marks create multiple variations on a syncopated theme that often pit one man against the other in playful competitions that ultimately build to a crescendo of unified teamwork. The insistent, industrial-tinged rhythms they create with nothing more than the toes and heels of their feet sometimes work in harmony with or at odds against the driving drum beats of superb musicians Noriko Terada and Caitlin Kalafus. Against a backdrop that alternately evokes a manufacturing plant, a foundry, and a skyscraper in the making, these six dancers and two musicians immerse the audience in the sights, sounds, energy and camaraderie of a construction site populated by a crew of quirky individuals who, despite their bravado and good-humored teasing, pull together to get the job done.
Russo serves as the affable but wise Foreman of this motley macho crew, taking the young Kid (Perry) under his wing while also handing out "work" assignments for the rest of his rambunctious team. Hancock takes on the role of the gravity-defying gymnast 21C, literally tapping out a tune while dangling from a harness upside down. His feats are even more impressive given that he wears a knee brace for much of the show.
Rossiello is the jovial Funky who perceives himself to be a bit of a lady's man, while Myles' Rat is more endearing than his pseudo alpha male posturing would initially lead one to believe. Marks almost goes unnoticed initially, seeming to be more interested in business than hijinks. But once his Rover doffs his T-shirt to reveal a rippling six-pack, his charisma is unleashed and sets the stage for some comical one-upsmanship.
Just when TAP DOGS' insistent percussion seems to be wearing out its welcome, the performance ups its game by moving the action onto elevated girders. With the dancers now precariously perched above the stage at steep angles, the stakes are raised, and so is the excitement. While one dancer scales the heights, the others pull together on steel cables to steady his ascent. Special effects become more dramatic, as well. A fiery inferno projected on a screen just behind the men suggests the heat of a raging steel smelter while realistic welding torches shoot what appear to be real sparks high into the air.
TAP DOGS is most definitely not 42nd STREET. There may be a bit of an old soft shoe wedged into the choreography, but rough metal sheeting instead of salt creates the sound of friction. And the smooth jazz encore that leads into the ultimate finale may start out gently enough, but soon the muted xylophone underscore gives way to amplified riveting sounds as the men unleash their rapid-fire step-ball-changes onto heavy-duty steel I-beams.
The all-out athleticism and high-end talent of the TAP DOGS team is reason enough to take in this performance at the Hanover. The icing on the cake is the unexpected fact that the personalities, relationships, and humor don't get lost in the shuffle.
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY HANOVER THEATRE: Anthony Russo as Foreman and the Company of TAP DOGS; Noriko Terada; Nathaniel Hancock as 21C; the Company of TAP DOGS