AussieTheatre is currently featuring interviews with the Tap Brothers, currently starring in the 21st Anniversary Production of Hot Shoe Shuffle.
Hot Shoe Shuffle is the tale of Spring, Slap, Buck, Wing, Tip, Tap and Slide and their long lost sister April in a 1940s inspired musical theatre setting with choreography by Dein Perry and David Atkins.
Our final feature is with 2008 University of Ballarat’s Music Theatre graduate Jaz Flowers who joins the cast as Tap sister April.
What is it that excites you most about being in the cast of Hot Shoe Shuffle?
That I get to work with my childhood idol David Atkins. To be directed by him and as a cast member, to be able to perform with him onstage is truly incredible.
When did you discover your love of tap dancing?
When I was four years old, after watching Hot Show Shuffle for the first time and putting on my first pair of tap shoes.
My mum owned a dance school in Morewell Victoria and so I started dance (ballet and stretching) when I was two and a half and then tap a little later. I competed in every eisteddfod from here till Timbucktoo, and then did music and drama through high school and they were the only subjects I was good at as they were my focus.
Describe your character – April
We only rehearsed for four weeks in Sydney and it usually takes a couple of weeks into the run to fully embrace the character. In a nutshell, she’s lovable and endearing because all she wants is to be in a show. She’s a bit dorky in the first act but by the second act she gets her drive in being the woman she is. She gets to embrace her sexuality and womanliness.
Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals or superstitions?
I find my pre-show routine develops over time. I have a can of coke before every show. From when I was at uni, I make sure on opening night I make sure I get around to every cast member; I cross my hands and I lock pinkies, give two kisses on the cheek and say chookas. Now I make sure I get around to the cast and I look them in the eye and give them in a hug and a kiss and connect before going onstage to put a bit of love in the room.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Be who you are and not who people want you to be. A quote I live by is ‘don’t stop because someone tells you you should’. I always said I would be in musical theatre and I didn’t stop until I was.
That would be a lie if I said I was at my peak. During the rehearsal process you eventually build up a show stamina. It’s different for every show. The physical requirements for Fame were different for Hairspray. Hairspray had two shows a day and then I would go to the gym in between. In Fame I didn’t do that because it was more vocally challenging and if I’m physically tired from going to the gym then that would affect my performance. With Hot Shoe, I have to look after my feet. The stamina is from the knee down and it’s vocally challenging as well.
You have worked with choreographer David Atkins (Hairspray and Hot Shoe Shuffle) prior to landing this role — tell us about your experiences working with this original cast member of Hot Shoe Shuffle.
It was difficult at first. My hands were shaking and I nearly had a stroke. But then I realised he’s just a person and he wants you to succeed. You get to learn what he wants from you as a performer and as a person.
It was great to watch him transform from director to co-star and performer. From thinking at age four watching him in the original production that I wanna be just like him, it’s been a mind blowing but positive experience.
Jaz Flowers graduated from the University of Ballarat’s Music Theatre course in 2008 and has performed in some of Australia's biggest musical theatre productions. Most notably, Jaz won the lead role of ‘Tracey Turnblad’ in the multi award winning production of Hairspray for which she won a Sydney Theatre Award – Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical, and received a Helpmann Award Nomination for Best Female Actor in a Musical.
Jaz has also appeared as Mabel in FAME – The Musical, Shane Warne The Musical and as a contestant on The Voice.
Hot Shoe Shuffle recently completed a successful season at QPAC, Brisbane. The show will transfer to Sydney's Lyric Theatre, The Star with performances commencing July 5.
Visit hotshoeshuffle.com.au for tickets and more information.