Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: Hot Shoe Shuffle, 21st Anniversary revival Sydney

Hot Shoe Shuffle
5 July 2013
Lyric Theatre, Sydney

Happy 21st Anniversary to David Atkins and Dein Perry, creators of Hot Shoe Shuffle; one of Australia's most successful home-grown musicals.

There's no better place or time to revive the show. There's also no better place or time to revise the book.

The tap numbers are thrilling and impressive, just as you'd expect of co-choreographers Perry (who also created the international tap hit, Tap Dogs) and Atkins (a prominent figure in the musical industry who wears many creative hats).

But the cringe-worthy script needs a re-write. The thin, cheesy plot about seven brothers re-united through a phony ploy from their absent father to put on a tap show makes for a flimsy foundation to build a show upon. Worse still, the script is naff and cartoon-like, resulting in a cast of two-dimensional, unsympathetic characters and jokes that fall flat.

Musical numbers are hit and miss, and mostly provide good excuses for entertaining tap dances. That said, both of Jaz Flower's stand and sing numbers in the second act are knock-out. Flowers has an electric stage presence and plays an impressive Marilyn-inspired sensual bombshell.

The two acts couldn't be more different. The first presents an artificial, larger-than-life world filled with colourful costumes and a cardboard-cut-out set reminiscent of Hairspray. The second is classy, ritzy and a homage to the best of old-school Vaudeville - with top hats, coat tails and the gorgeous orchestra in full-view. The second act is better than the first, mostly because the characters talk less and dance more, but also because the set and costume design better complement the style of the show.

As an entire musical, the highs are high - such as the talented Bobby Fox's tap solo which merits its own standing ovation. But the lows are low - thanks to a poor script that isn't helped by over-the-top, superficial, bad acting performances by the cast.

Hot Shoe Shuffle displays many of the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian musical theatre industry: fantastic dance talent yet poor acting performances, crafted moments of incredible spectacle that sit alongside uninspired scenes that fall flat, and an abundance of energy for a show that still need fine-tuning.

Australian audiences should see Hot Shoe Shuffle for the fantastic, highly-skilled tap numbers that showcase our home-grown choreography and dance talent. They will just have to forgive some of the silliness.

$20 student tickets available on the day of performance at the Lyric Theatre.
For tickets, visit
Showing in Sydney 5 July - 4 August, Melbourne 9 August - 1 September