A Good Week for History Buffs.

Tap Brothers with Jaz 2

On Centre Stage.


Brisbane’s theatrical fountain is full to overflowing in what’s been a great week for cultural vultures as mainstream, edgy, alternative and even festival works all rub shoulders together.

On Centre Stage’s Douglas Kennedy has been out and about catching a meager three productions with strong historical credentials, and all for different reasons.Mood Indigo - David

Let’s start with David Atkins’ Hot Shoe Shuffle, which has a significant role to play in mainstream theatre, as the diminutive hoofer and his team launch its 21st anniversary tour with a brand new production at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex’s Lyric Theatre.

This groundbreaking tap musical, which is poised to tour nationally, burst onto the scene in 1992 with producer, director, co-choreographer Atkins taking the lead on stage alongside the much loved Rhonda Burchmore.

The remarkable showman, who also created Dancin’ Man and Dynamite, put his first musical book show together in 12 weeks and created what would become the London  West End’s first all-Australian musical.

Hot Shoe Shuffle’s rather flimsy story centres on the seven tap brothers – back then Atkins as Spring Tap was leader of the gang – who had to recreate their father’s routine, The Hot Shoe Shuffle, to earn his inheritance.

The catch was that they had to do it with their supposedly lead-footed sister, April, who, of course, was played by Miss Burchmore.

The yarn, which owed a lot to wacky old Hollywood films by teams such as the Marx Brothers, was slight but the swing music and dance numbers were crackers.

The routines – about two dozen of them in total – included all-time greats such as I’ve Got to be a Rugcutter (Duke Ellington), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Fats Waller), Fifteen Minute Intermission (Cab Calloway), Puttin’ On The Ritz (Irving Berlin) and When I Get My Name in  Lights (Peter Allen) among others.

In this new production Atkins, two decades down the track, has cast himself in a cameo role and handed the leads to Jaz Flowers (The Voice) and Bobby Fox (Jersey Boys).

Meanwhile, over at the Brisbane Arts Theatre, Brisbane’s long-running Fractal Theatre is exploring classic Gothic horror in a new adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic Frankenstein.

The production, which has been directed, designed and adapted by Brenna Lee-Cooney, features a cast of young talent and older veterans such as Eugene Gilfedder.

Lee-Cooney’s stage version is faithful to Shelley’s original book and takes a closer look at the creature’s quest for a companion in a world in which he is both socially and emotionally isolated.

Lastly, Small Crown Productions takes a close – 80 minute – look at the world of the Bayeux Tapestry in the Collectors Café at the Queensland Museum.

The 70-metre tapestry, created in England 950 years ago, and now on display in France’s Bayeux Cathedral, tells the story of the Battle of Hastings and the show, co-written by Paul Adams and Penny Farrow, is naturally called  1066 – The Bayeux Tapestry Brought to Life.

The play or story – which has seven actors in one scene creating a ship on the café floor and then fighting the Battle of Hastings – is part of the remarkable Anywhere Theatre Festival.

The festival, which started in 2011, this year features 49 productions (that’s 270 performances) in an array of public places other than a theatre.

Sadly the festival – which is drawing interest from as far away as Milan, Honk Kong and closer to home Melbourne – may wind-up its Brisbane run this year as it has failed to secure local government and Queensland State Government funding.

What a real-life tragedy!

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