Spoleto 2010 » Opera & Musical Theater

Brothers return with a percussive experience in Buckets and Tap Shoes

Tap and Bop

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Along with recent popular performances revived for Piccolo Spoleto, there's also a handful of shows that appear on the festival calendar every few years. They're audience-tested crowd-pleasers that are sure to draw a packed house.

Buckets and Tap Shoes not only entertained festival crowds in 2006, but the show has evolved over the past four years and is coming back to Charleston having added several new numbers and surprises, says Rick Ausland, who headlines the show with his brother, Andy.

"It's been nice to evolve with the show," says Rick Ausland. "We keep adding new things to it."

The previous show included the brothers on percussion with a troupe of dancers, but the current lineup puts the tap-dancing duo front and center, with accompaniment from drums, bass guitar, and keyboard. The keys have been a strong addition to the show, Ausland says. "A lot of things before were all just a rhythm section," he says. "Now we can do some stuff with a melody."

That includes a new number with the brothers performing to Mozart, matching every note with a corresponding step. "It's one of Mozart's more percussive songs, so it seemed to lend itself to that," Ausland says.

It's a family-friendly show, which is fitting, since the Auslands' connection to both buckets and tap shoes is a family affair. "Our dad is a drummer and our mom is a tap dancer," Ausland says.

The buckets, the kind you'd envision being played on an urban street or in a subway terminal, provide some of the show's clever appeal, along with the tap shoes, which Ausland also considers an instrument.

But there's even more than the title suggests. On any given night, the brothers incorporate large sticks, fans, or a little smoke in the show. And magic provides an opportunity to surprise the audience. Much like the buckets and shoes, the tricks are organic for the duo.

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