Music Theatre

The Tap Pack review [Melbourne 2023]

A heady mix of energy, creativity and charm, The Tap Pack returns for 2023 with their crowd-pleasing show lovingly buffed up to shine at its best.

A terrific showcase for five male dancer/singers, The Tap Pack takes its suave inspiration from The Rat Pack of the 1950s. The nightclub set, suits with skinny ties, and classic swing tunes transport the audience all the way back to the good old, bad old days.

Co-created and directed by Nigel Turner-Carroll, the production boasts four musicians and a smartly updated set bearing the troupe’s name in red and white neon. Five sturdy wooden blocks flip between being a bar and steps, and sharp lighting adds the finishing touch to the classy production.

Trimmed to a single act with 90-minute running time, the slick show starts on a high and only gets hotter from there. Musical director Stefan Nowak deftly leads three fellow musicians through a variety of styles, supporting dance and vocals alike. To give just one example of Nowak’s flair, the dance break in Rodgers and Hart classic “The Lady is a Tramp Champ” wittily samples Guys and Dolls hit “Luck Be A Lady.”

At the heart of the cast for this season is the dazzling original trio of Jesse Rasmussen, Jordan Pollard, and Thomas J Egan, each billed as creative directors as well as cast members. Ben Brown returns as a guest and the Melbourne season is blessed by the presence of rising musical theatre leading man Thomas McGuane as featured vocalist.

The highly engaging performance sees each of the fellows share their dance origin story (verified at this performance by a parent of each of Rasmussen and Brown, who were sitting in my row). Tapping, singing, juggling, and doing comedy, each of the troupe have their standout moments whilst also smoothly working together with tightly rehearsed synchronicity.  

Rasmussen shines in a sequence that pays heartfelt homage to male dance stars of yesteryear. In a clear sign that the show has found its target audience, a resounding cry of “Ginger Rogers” rang out when Rasmussen asked the audience the name of Fred Astaire’s dance partner. Ginger is subsequently danced by the pack’s resident “ginger,” Mr Pollard. 

The dancing feet of Rasmussen, Pollard, and Egan share a spotlight in a unique unaccompanied sequence in which the tap beats play out like the dialogue of a western.

In a virtuosic display, Egan shines an extended improvised tap routine that is a true highlight of the show. 

Brown proves equally adept at dance and vocals, championing modern numbers in a sing-off with McGuane, who prefers the classics. A swoon-worthy crooner, McGuane delivers melodic Frank Sinatra standard “The Way You Look Tonight” and later brings new life to a mellow cover of Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby.”

Leaving the audience cheering for more in a hearty standing ovation, The Tap Pack is a rosy trip down musical memory lane. Come for the dancing, stay for the vocals and humour. 

The Tap Pack plays at Comedy Theatre, Melbourne until 30 April 2023, For tickets, click here.

The Tap Pack plays at Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre on 6 May 2023, For tickets, click here.

The Tap Pack plays at Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane 14-15 July 2023, For tickets, click here.

The Tap Pack plays at Studio, Sydney Opera House 20-23 July 2023, For tickets, click here.

Photos: The Tap Pack, 2018

Categories: Music Theatre, Reviews

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