Star-Bulletin Features

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
The six athletic members of Tap Dogs deliver a powerful
show on the strength of stamina, agility, acting, attitude and
the rhythmic application of metal on wood.

Great action-‘Pack’
show all about attitude,
rhythm of metal on wood

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin

AN international pack of athletic dancers served notice last night that tap dancing can be as exciting, dramatic and chicly postmodern as the most highly touted street-dance squad. At its Hawaii Theatre opening, Tap Dogs held a near-capacity crowd spellbound for more than 70 minutes without abandoning the tap format.

Many may relate most easily to Tap Dogs by comparison with the spectacular production of "Stomp!" that played here a year ago.

In a single sentence: Tap Dogs does for tap what "Stomp!" does for percussion.

"Stomp!" displayed the possibilities of creating diverse sounds and rhythms with everyday objects. Tap Dogs explores the varieties of expression possible within one form of dance. Go for the dancing and Tap Dogs surpasses its pre-opening hype.

Tap Dogs -- 8 p.m. nightly through Nov. 2 at Hawaii Theatre. Tickets are $25-$5, available at the box office or through Connection outlets. Call 528-0506 or 545-4000.

It isn't "beefcake"-- even if two of the men remove their shirts. The sextet delivers a powerful show on the strength of their stamina, agility, acting and attitude.

Tap Dogs isn't really about raw energy either. Creator/choreographer Dein Perry is remarkable in his subtle variations; his original vision of turbo-charged tap for the millennium is inspired.

Start with the basic concept: The rhythmic application of metal on wood. Escalate to the distinctly different sounds of dancers performing on a metal surface instead of a wooden one.

Dancer/dance director Sheldon Perry is first among equals as the talented squad taps its way through a series of rigorous and increasingly complicated adventures. Perry opened last night with a demonstration of solo virtuosity and dominated much of the dramatic action thereafter.

The set grows as dancers and stage hands move things around and haul out scaffolding. The performance area morphs into other configurations. The men perform on multi-level structures, ramps and moving surfaces. (Those not seated in the center section can appreciate the construction format more fully, since the seats off-center offer a good view of backstage operations.)

Sheldon Perry dances amid cascading showers of sparks as other Dogs apply grinders to metal scaffolding. In an equally spectacular number, a performer is hoisted high above the stage to tap dance upside down against a metal plate above him. He performs in mirror image to Perry's routine on the stage below.

Other segments involve water. One displays the rhythmic and visual possibilities of dancing in a puddle -- splashy fun for all. Another has a dancer who's visible only from the knees down appear to urinate copiously during the number. Toilet humor is one of the most infantile forms of comedy and Honolulu loves it -- the bit brought the house down last night.

Comedy of greater subtlety spices many other numbers. A facial expression here, a little body language there, and dancers Latheniel Cooper, Jeremy Fullam, Chris Horsey, Jeremy Kiesman and Anthony Locascio gradually become personalities.

Dein Perry and designer/director Nigel Triffitt add impact with dramatic lighting, ropes, a basketball, a modest amount of smoke, electronic percussion panels, and a cacophony of high-decibel music/noise contributed by two musicians. The volume exceeded earplug levels last night -- at least for those seated to the sides of the theatre.

Bottom line? Tap Dogs delivers. Tap will never be the same.

Do It Electric!

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