The Tap Pack review at Peacock Theatre, London – ‘inspired tapping’
Australian quintet The Tap Pack produce a slick two hours of hoofing and honied vocals, interspersing their impressive dance routines with renditions of swing standards.
The odd bit of Ed Sheeran and Oasis’ Wonderwall also get a crooning makeover from pack leader Sean Mulligan and his megawatt smile. By and large, it’s straightforward, serviceable entertainment, complemented by a live band, kaleidoscopic lighting and a spangly set comprising a bar, replete with cocktail shakers, that transforms into a block of golden steps.
If only there wasn’t so much tiresome Sinatra idolatry, an insistence on perpetuating that tired brand of lounge lizard masculinity topped off with the obligatory trilby hat. Audience-bound patter is peppered with cringey references to “London ladies”, the male contingent characterised as ‘obstacles to those ladies.’
Otherwise enjoyable dance sequences are punctuated with sleazy hip thrusts. None of the performers have voices to match their tapping abilities – Gershwin is given some reedy melisma and there’s ponderous scotch-sipping during the interminable One For My Baby.
It’s only when the cast leave aside the ramped-up razzle-dazzle and focus on acappella tap that the show comes alive. There’s a delicate soft shoe shuffle that scrapes through sand and a blistering improvisation from Thomas Egan, by turns casually loose-limbed and furiously turbo-powered. Jesse Rasmussen also impresses with his intricate blend of drumming and dancing.
Stripped of the cheesy veneer, the true beauty of tap is revealed; the percussive possibilities of a dance form that’s both visual and aural, music for the eyes and ears.