www.theatreguide.com.au Supporting live theatre in South Australia PO Box 738 email@example.com MODBURY SA 5092 ABN : 93 297 960 525 HOT SHOE SHUFFLE Matt Byrne Media Arts Theatre Until 18 Jul 2009 Review by Richard Flynn At first glance, director Matt Byrne would seem to be in kamikaze mode in attempting to stage “Hot Shoe Shuffle”. It’s a cabaret-with-elements-of-a-musical, by Australia’s David Atkins, himself first and foremost a tap and acrobatic dancer. The show depends on seven hard-working young men (Michael Williams, Craig Brooker, Matthew Brookes, Rohan Watts, Angus Smith, Thomas Phillips and Brendan Cooney). When you learn that they’ve been rehearsing for only three months to learn a style of dance that is new to all but one of them, you realise what they and their directors have achieved. In addition, they sing well, even harmonize, while they execute the understandably basic routines. Mr Byrne has assembled a talented group of ‘co-pilots’ and together they ensure a crash is averted. After him, top honours go to candidate-for-sainthood choreographer, Sue Pole, who has coaxed her ‘unlikely lads’ to a level where they appear, for most of the show, a credible tap team. Then there is Rodney Hrvatin, leading a well rehearsed on-stage, 12-piece orchestra, just right for the style of music selected (some excellent trumpet work, though all the instruments shine at various times). With no dedicated music score of its own, “Hot Shoe Shuffle” borrows from a variety of sources. Though light on story, the show’s aim is to showcase dancing and a menu of appropriate songs. It’s driven by old man Max, played by veteran Max Rayner in a role which highlights his dancing abilities - but is not always so kind to his singing. The show’s tour de force however is lone leggy lady, Melanie Smith, as April. This girl can sing, dance expertly and look delicious - even when she’s supposed to be botching the steps being taught to her by the ensemble of lovable male hoofers. A fine chorus of backing female dancers and a slick vocal quartet complete the cast list. So often the bane of amateur theatre, the sound, by Tim Freedman of AllPro Audio, is well balanced, on time and with no obvious squeaks – but Mike Phillips’ lighting has a way to go, though increasing familiarity will ensure it is on time (not several seconds late, particularly at the end of scenes) and the dimming speeds varied to suit better the different situations. Follow spot operators (Barb Sherwood and Cory Schammer) don’t miss too much. Costumes work extremely well, as do the bold poster-like sets and backdrops – many from Atkins’ own production that played here some years ago. The show needs more pace and by now that has probably been achieved. On Opening Night it started to drag from the middle of Act 1 – and that was not just because of slow scene changes. If you don‘t expect too much of the dancing men, “Hot Shoe Shuffle” offers a good night out. Catch it – at the Arts, or on tour to Elizabeth and Renmark.