If TAPS Dance Company’s annual show, “Tappy Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stomp,” were a flavor of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, it would be coffee. The show provides an energizing kick, (not to mention literal kicks, probably thousands over the course of the hour), and satisfies a craving — a craving for our favorite adolescent wizard, that is.
The variety of the numbers, the assortment of wacky costumes, and the technical precision sustained throughout the show would cause any lowly Muggle in the audience not endowed with magical tapping powers to exclaim, “Merlin’s beard!” (just in case your Potter slang’s a little rusty, this is an exclamation of surprise or awe.)
Do you find yourself, however, looking into the future and imagining that all the TAPS numbers would feel the same? Some flying feet, mellow jazz music, maybe even some jilted Gene-Kelly-inspired chapeaux? How crazy can tap really get? Divine again. “Tappy Potter’s” main strength lies in its mix of choreographic odes to the past, present and future.
There’s an old school number for the classic-tap-at-heart danced to Oscar Peterson’s “Days of Wine and Roses,” that feels like a scene from Singin’ in the Rain. There’s another more fast-paced throwback piece danced to “42nd Street,” complete with cancan lines, jazz hands and gold-sequined suits.
In a more contemporary wavelength, the show opens with a rousing dance-off in which four beastly tappers duel to T-Pain’s “Church.” No wands needed; spells are cast in the form of nasty tap and hip-hop skills. TAPS members also have ballet and lyrical tricks up their sleeves, which they reveal in two pieces danced to Maroon 5’s “Little More of Your Time” and Sara Bareilles’s “King of Anything” in the second half of the show.
And this is where it gets stupefying, if the level of technique wasn’t mystifying enough already.
A piece entitled “Distortion” concludes the first act, in which part of the ensemble wears silver spandex and demonstrates angular, robotic movements for a metalloid tap twist. “Glow Tap” — in which a backlit stage gives the illusion the tappers have donned invisibility cloaks save their “glowing” shoes and hats — provides an innovative conclusion to a second act marked by the same energy level as the first.
And, of course, there’s the timeless Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to tie this multi-dimensional performance together. Although tappers abandon their brooms and capes for some of the numbers, Hogwarts-themed “interludes” act as an over-arching, comical thread to the show.
The most conducive to tap, and by extension the most amusing, is a parody of the popular “Harry Potter Puppet Pals” YouTube video. A TAPS dancer masquerading as the infamous Severus Snape begins the well-known chant: “Snape, Snape, Sev-er-us Snape … ” and another dancer, costumed in full-on wizard apparel (white beard and all), leaps from stage right and shouts, “Dumbledore!” The well-loved Ron Weasley and Hermione also make their cameo appearances and continue the enchanted tap jam session.
The finale of “Tappy Potter” brings together all of its best elements. The entire company, in black and white outfits, grooves with synchronized precision to Michael Jackson’s (of course) “Black and White” in a group number that for some reason departs from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After the final pose, a spin-off of Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” blasts through the theater for the curtain call, but these dancing Hogwarts students fly “like it’s Quidditch!”
You can apparate on over to the Off-Broadway Theater at 8:00 p.m. this weekend through Saturday to catch a glimpse of these charmed students’ unique take on tap. By the end, you won’t need to be cast with the Tarantallegra spell; you‘ll just want to get up there and dance with TAPS, too.