Tap Dogs Rebooted | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Tap Dogs Rebooted 

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At first glance Australian choreographer and former industrial machinist Dein Perry appears to be updating a stodgy form in Tap Dogs, first performed in 1995 and seen here last in 1999. Certainly six guys dressed in flannel shirts, jeans, and work boots seem about as far from Fred Astaire in top hat and tails as you can get. But the Dogs stamping out blunt yet intricate rhythms on a set that's seemingly under construction actually recalls the origins of tap: Irish- and African-American stevedores working on the docks combined the percussive dances of their native lands to produce a new form. Tap dance moved from minstrel shows to vaudeville, where the premium on entertainment produced such acts as the Nicholas Brothers, who regularly incorporated flips and airborne splits into their routine; in their most famous Hollywood film, 1943's Stormy Weather, they tapped up a specially constructed staircase with three-foot risers, then slid down the steps. Tap Dogs continues the tradition of the novelty act: these guys tap while bouncing a basketball, tap in a shower of sparks, tap on electronic drumheads to produce a rock symphony. And in Tap Dogs Rebooted, a refurbished version of the show, they dance with women--hmm, maybe they're not so far from Astaire. I just hope the Dogs don't get too polite, because the show's appeal has always been its rude male energy. a 10/5-10/10: Tue 8 PM, Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 9 PM, Sun 2 and 7:30 PM, Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe, 312-902-1400 (312-977-1710 for groups of 20 or more), $25-$62.50.

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