cover story: Hot Dogs hit Jupiters – boots and all.............

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

TAP Dogs has clat­tered its way around the world nu­mer­ous times since reignit­ing the art of tap dance in 1995, its troupe of rub­ber-limbed per­form­ers de­light­ing more than 11 mil­lion peo­ple in 37 coun­tries.

But the show’s founder, Dein Perry, says a men­ac­ing Celtic jig al­most proved an early undoing for the global dance phe­nom­e­non when a first and only trip to Ire­land was far from lucky.

Suc­cess even­tu­ally saw the live spec­tac­u­lar cat­a­pulted from the Sydney Fes­ti­val to Lon­don’s West End and Broad­way in just two years, but not be­fore a near crip­pling run in Dublin saw it trounced by Michael Flat­ley’s River­dance.

‘‘It was just be­fore we were of­fered Lyric The­atre in the West End and we needed to build up a rep­u­ta­tion in the out­skirts first,’’ Perry says.

‘‘We thought we’d be smart and skip over to Ire­land but we found our­selves go­ing up against River­dance, which had just taken off – six guys tap-danc­ing against about 40 or 50 Ir­ish dancers who had just ex­ploded on the scene. ‘‘It was dread­ful. We were left play­ing to empty theatres be­cause peo­ple there just weren’t in­ter­ested.’’

The lows are an­cient his­tory now as Tap Dogs pre­pares for its first Gold Coast sea­son – an eight-week run in Jupiters The­atre from Satur­day night.

The en­er­getic show sees six guys tap-danc­ing on a steely in­dus­trial set­ting – their boots do­ing all the talk­ing.

‘‘We re­ally put it to­gether be­cause there was no av­enue or no shows that you could get em­ployed in as a tap dancer,’’ Perry says.

‘‘Lit­tle did we know we’d be able to de­velop it into a fullfledged show.’’

Be­fore long, Perry and his five found­ing Tap Dogs were ap­pear­ing on The Jay Leno Show and em­bark­ing on world­wide tours, play­ing to thou­sands of fans in theatres and later sta­di­ums.

Perry has since won an Olivier Award for his chore­og­ra­phy and is en­joy­ing the show’s lat­est pop­u­lar­ity surge around the world. But it hasn’t al­ways been easy manag­ing Aus­tralia’s long­est-run­ning per­for­mance ex­port, with the stan­dard em­ployer chal­lenges of sick days and re­cruit­ment caus­ing the big­gest headaches.

‘‘It can hap­pen where some­one will au­di­tion for you and you’ll think they’re fan­tas­tic and then a week into re­hearsals you re­alise they’re just not go­ing to get it,’’ Perry says.

Copy-cat pro­duc­tions are also a prob­lem but de­spite a string of shows which have cropped up im­per­son­at­ing Tap Dogs, Perry is adamant he al­ways at­tracts the best tap dancers in the world. And he be­lieves the global suc­cess of the brand he per­son­ally dreamt up from home in New­cas­tle is driven from a purely Aus­tralian for­mula.

‘‘It’s all about the knock-about lar­rikin­ism of the guys on stage – just ev­ery-day blokes who you wouldn’t think as tap dancers,’’ he says.

‘‘That’s the key to the show be­cause ev­ery guy in the au­di­ence thinks, ‘He’s just like me, I should be able to do that too’.’’

Tap Dogs opens in Jupiters The­atre on Satur­day and plays Tuesdays to Satur­days at 7.30pm, with mati­nees Wed­nes­days at 1pm, Satur­days at 3pm and Sun­days at 4pm.

Thurs­day, 8-11-12

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The stars of Tap Dogs (above) at Kur­rawa Beach and (left) cre­ator and chore­og­ra­pher Dein Perry.

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