Global smash dance show Tap Dogs is a breed apart

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The Tap Dogs perform at the Australian Embassy compound in Riyadh. (Supplied photo)
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The Tap Dogs perform at the Australian Embassy compound in Riyadh. (Supplied photo)
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The Tap Dogs perform at the Australian Embassy compound in Riyadh. (Supplied photo)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Global smash dance show Tap Dogs is a breed apart

  • "Tap Dogs" is one of the very first international dance groups to perform in Saudi Arabia
  • The event is part of a cultural-exchange festival presented by Glory Events with the support of the General Cultural Authority

RIYADH:  After 23 years entertaining theater audiences around the world, the Australian dance show “Tap Dogs” has arrived in Riyadh. The full 80-minute show, created by dancer Dein Perry, is at the King Salman Theatre, Riyadh Schools, until October 19, but an audience at the Australian embassy was recently treated to an exhilarating 10-minute extract featuring some frenetic footwork.

“’Tap Dogs’ is one of the very first international dance groups to perform in Saudi Arabia,” said Ridwan Jadwat, the Australian ambassador to Saudi Arabia as he introduced the performance. “It’s a world-renowned act. The original Tap Dog is Dein Perry and I’m very pleased that his son, Reid, is with us today.

“Australia’s entertainment industry is an important part of the Australian economy. I’m thrilled that Australia is now collaborating with Saudi Arabia as (the Kingdom is) opening its own industry to the world.”

Set on a building site in the steel-working Australian town of Newcastle, north of Sydney, “Tap Dogs” is described as “part theatre, part dance, part rock concert and part construction site.” The show, which was first performed in Sydney in 1995, is crammed with high-energy tap-dance routines — some of them performed in water, upside-down or while jumping through scaffolding — accompanied by music performed live by the cast and musicians.

Cast member Sam Marks was just seven years old when he started taking tap-dancing lessons



“My mom made me take up tap-dance lessons. Once I did my first tap class, I was hooked,” he said. “Our style is very unique and the boots that we use are unique to Dein Perry and Australia.”

Co-star Reid Perry, the 20-year-old son of the “Tap Dog” founder, was inspired by his dad to start learning tap dancing at the tender age of 2.

“I wouldn’t have started tap dancing or dancing in general if he didn’t get me into it, which is something that was very cool, growing up with him being able to teach me,” he said.

Both of the young performers said they are enjoying their time in Saudi Arabia and found it to be a friendly and open place.

This event is part of a cultural-exchange festival presented by Glory Events with the support of the General Cultural Authority.

“Raeefa Al-Shawaf, the executive director of Glory Events, was on a visit to the UK and when she first saw them perform and saw the idea behind, the vision came: why not bring it to Saudi Arabia?” said, Kashif Zahoor, the organization’s operations director. “We wanted to work with them and they wanted to work with us.”


After conquering Broadway, ‘Hamilton’ eyes global tour

Updated 16 June 2019
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After conquering Broadway, ‘Hamilton’ eyes global tour

  • Created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show charts Caribbean-born Hamilton who rises through his smarts and determination to become a key military aide to George
  • The push for more overseas performances comes as “Hamilton” mania remains as strong as ever in its home market

NEW YORK: After triumphing on Broadway, the lower 48 states and London’s West End, “Hamilton” is eyeing its first non-English production as well as tours throughout Europe and Asia.
The much-decorated musical, currently being staged nightly in London and New York as well as four other US cities, last month announced plans to launch in Sydney in early 2021 in a production expected to tour Australia before going to Asia, its producer said in an interview.
The “Hamilton” team is also working with a German hip-hop artist and playwright to develop a German-language version of the work.
The show, which is performed by a mostly non-white cast and mixes pulsating rap numbers with ballads and traditional musical numbers, has been credited with invigorating Broadway, thrilling audiences of all ages and across the political spectrum.
Producer Jeffrey Seller told AFP he sees a lot of international interest in the show. Australians frequently stream its soundtrack, Germany has long been receptive to American musicals and a Mexico City show, perhaps in Spanish, is also a possibility.
“My hope is that our story is resonant to people all over the world as a story of revolution, as a story of ambition, as a story of self-realization,” said Seller, who has been called the “CEO of Hamilton Inc.”
“I think Alexander Hamilton’s journey is universal.”
The push for more overseas performances comes as “Hamilton” mania remains as strong as ever in its home market.
Created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show charts Caribbean-born Hamilton — introduced as “a bastard, orphan son of a whore” — who rises through his smarts and determination to become a key military aide to George Washington during the American Revolution and later the architect of the US financial system in the republic’s early days.
Hamilton was killed in a duel in 1804 by Aaron Burr, a foil throughout the show and the character who sings “The Room Where It Happens,” a jazzy show-stopper about political horse-trading.
Nearly four years after its Broadway debut, the show completely sold out during the just-ended 2018-9 season, garnering almost $165 million, or nine percent of Broadway’s total in a record-setting season.
Business is also brisk for three national touring companies, which typically perform three- and four-week stints in American cities of varying size.
The “Angelica” touring company — named for Hamilton’s sister-in-law in the musical — made its Louisville premiere earlier this month at the Kentucky Center. The venue seats 2,400, about 1,100 more seats than the musical’s Broadway home at the Richard Rodgers Theater.
Anticipation for the show boosted subscriptions for touring Broadway shows in Louisville this season by nearly 20 percent, said Leslie Broecker, Midwest president for Broadway Across America, who calls the show a “catalyst” in attracting new audiences.
Shannon Steen, a University of California professor specializing in performance studies and race theory, attributes the show’s domestic success to Miranda’s skill at blending musical genres while appealing to diverse political constituencies.
The show “confirms this idea that America can serve as a city on a hill for global democracy,” a theme that resonates with conservatives, Steen said.
At the same time, signature lines such as “immigrants get the job done” have emerged as applause points for critics of US President Donald Trump’s harsh immigration policies, which parallel similar debates in other markets.
The show’s themes about immigration “will likely not resonate in the same way (as in the US), but it will be interesting to see how those things are taken up by audiences in other countries,” Steen said.
International investments will be tailored by market. Seller expects an English-language version of “Hamilton” to play in Paris perhaps for an eight- or 10-week run as part of a European tour around 2022-23.
He said the French have not shown much hunger for past American musicals, but that this show — which features a prominent French character in the Marquis de Lafayette — could spawn a French-language version if it sells well.
But Germany has for years been a robust market for US musicals, including “Wicked” and “Lion King,” and “they have the population to support it for a long run,” Seller said.
Stephan Jaekel, a spokesman for Stage Entertainment in Germany, which has been overseeing auditions for “Hamilton,” said the aim is to open in the fall of 2020 in Hamburg, but that a final deal has yet to be signed.
“We much look forward to presenting it to German audiences and hope to be able to start ticket sales soon,” Jaekel said in an email.
Seller hopes to announce the show in the coming months.