The Tap Factory promises ‘eight handsome men’ (already intriguing) who perform ‘urban tap dance’—a genre I must admit I was not familiar with. What I found at their Festival Theatre performance was a slightly confusing, yet thoroughly entertaining show that is perfect for families, music lovers, and anyone who thinks watching shirtless men strut their stuff and drum on giant cans sounds like a good time.
According to their official website, the company was founded by Vincent Pausanias, the group’s producer and choreographer, whose aspiration was to create a group that showcased the highest technical levels of dance while implementing comedy, percussion, and of course, sexiness. The Factory brought this and more to the stage, the performance implementing acrobatics, audience participation, flutes, breakdancing, and more silly fun.
As implied by its name, the company performs in a makeshift ‘Factory,’ with industrial barrels stacked in a metal frame, and the characters appearing as workers, cleaners, and mechanics. The story followed ‘Newby,’ a small awkward employee teased by his co-workers as he tap dances his way into the audience’s hearts. This character is played by the show’s headliner—Jeremie Champagne of France’s So You Think You Can Dance. His expertly executed tap dances were made even more compelling by his lovable, light-hearted character.
Another impressive performance came from Konan Kouassi, as ‘Sweeper,’ a factory janitor who serves as a sort of narrator throughout the show. Kouassi’s strong, beautiful singing voice, stage presence, and sense of humour were a highlight of the evening. Sweeper is also one of only two characters who speak throughout the show, although in an unidentified language. My inference is that the purpose of this directorial choice is to make the show accessible to global audiences, but I must admit I failed to fully comprehend his jokes. The rest of the audience, however, howled with laughter at some moments that left me baffled, and I was left asking myself what I was missing. Kouassi also opened the show in a comedic bit with his counterpart, Joffry Mayomba, that took place in the aisles of the theatre. I was disappointingly unable to appreciate this scene as it took place out of my view from the balcony, and I wish the director would have taken this into consideration.
My favourite member of the company was Xavier Bouyer as ‘Mechanic.’ Bouyer, an acrobatic gymnast, was onstage less than the tap dancers, making his few scenes even more impactful. Fans of Cirque du Soleil would enjoy his impressive stunts that left me biting my nails at points.
The Tap Factory provided a memorable display of rhythm and athleticism. The production value seemed high, and the dances were witty and well-executed. Although I failed to understand some of the comedy incorporated into the performance, I enjoyed the positive attitude the men brought to the stage and left the theatre smiling.