Urban dance, percussion and acrobatics in spectacular Tap Factory
- Credit: Archant
A dance explosion featuring some top tap-dancers but without the traditional top hat and tails, and with no jazz-hands in sight, Tap Factory, which is coming to Lowestoft and Norwich, mixing urban rhythms and some circus-style set-pieces.
It is more boys and beams than Busby Berkeley with a hard core mix of comedy and testosterone.
And Tap Factory is set to make a triumphant return to the region from a world tour that has taken it all over Europe and to China.
In Lowestoft and then arriving at Norwich Theatre Royal for two nights later this month, it sees a cast of dungaree-clad performers mix urban tap, percussion, comedy and acrobatics in a high-octane show which promises thrills, spills, skills and laughs.
Cast-member Lee Meadows said it features so many different genres. 'Although it is called Tap Factory and has some tap numbers in it, there is so much more to it than that. We have a couple of guys who do hip-hop numbers, a musician who plays the flute, a hand-balancer, a strap artists, drumming, percussion, the tap, and plenty of comedy.'
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Fellow cast-member Adam Brant adds: 'When people first come into the auditorium and see the set, it does look just like a factory. There isn't the glitter and the sparkly tailcoats. It is more down-to-earth with plenty of rhythm and noise.'
But what about all the all-male cast? Show creator Vincent Pausanias said it gives Tap Factory a very unique focus.
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He laughed: 'I have nothing against girls at all and I have worked with a lot of female dancers. I just wanted to create a show that is full of testosterone while also being suitable for all the family and is brilliant fun.'
While the show does look effortless and lots of fun, it also requires stacks of stamina and Adam said all the cast need to be at the top of their game.
He said: 'It is a tough show. You do have to be in good shape and keep up a good training regime. We rehearse and practice a lot, and we are workshopping each of the numbers a lot.'
The production's origins date back to choreographer and artistic director Vincent teaming up with Gilles Guenat, world champion tap dancer and Jérémie Champagne, who was a finalist on the French version of So You Think You Can Dance. It has now been performed over 300 times around the globe which has taken it to Europe, 10 weeks in China and 12 in America.
Part of the success is attributed to the fact that anyone can enjoy it. Vincent said: 'It is a universal success. Anyone can understand it wherever they are.'
And the cast said being part of the show is great fun. Lee said: 'I am so lucky to have this job. It is amazing to go to all the different countries and experience the varied cultures. The audiences do react in different ways though. In China, they don't clap during the show but go wild at the end.'
His co-star Adam also loves being part of it and entertaining global audiences. 'It is nice to see how different cultures appreciate different parts of the show. Some enjoy the comedy, some appreciate the percussion, and it is interesting to see how the show plays in different countries,' he said.
To add in some extra spice, Vincent keeps on refining Tap Factory while it is on the road. He explained: 'The show is really a work in progress. The first performance of the tour is always different to the last one. I also wanted to keep an element of improvisation in it and have a sense of freedom. Keeping it fresh also means that something new can appear in it at any time.'
For both Lee and Adam, entering the tap world began by accompanying their siblings to dance lessons. Lee recalled: 'My sister used to dance when she was younger. I really wanted to play the drums when I was about eight but my mum did not want to buy me a drum kit. She sent me to dance lessons instead and said 'try that.' I guess it stuck.'
Adam enjoyed a similar start in the dance world. He laughed: 'My older sister used to go to dance classes and I was running riot in the waiting area at the age of four. I was put into a class to let off some steam and the rhythm of tap really appealed to me.
'I then trained in dance and musical theatre and was lucky enough to tour the world on cruise ships. In fact that was where I first met Vincent who was choreographing a show on-board.'
The Norwich shows are particularly special to Lee as he regards the city as his second home. He said: 'I did the Theatre Royal pantomime for several years working with Richard Gauntlett and being part of the panto family.
'It is also nice to come to Norwich as part of this UK tour. We are very lucky to go to many countries but it is nice to come home as well, especially for the British guys in the cast as it means our family and friends get to see the show. It is great to be back on home turf.'
• Tap Factory is at Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, on October 12, 7.30pm, £23.50 (£21.50 cons), 01502 533200, marinatheatre.co.uk• The show is then at Norwich Theatre Royal on October 26, 7.30pm and October 27, 2.30pm and 7.30pm, £25.50-£8, 01603 630000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk