New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.
February 11, 2016

Inside Untapped!

It's summertime in Australia right now, but the dancers and musicians of Untapped! have braved the chilly New York winter to bring their raucous rhythms to the New Victory stage. With a beatboxer, live music and five tap dancers, they have a lot of fun onstage—here's a sneak peek!

The show's director, Andrew Fee, performed on our stage when Untapped! came to the New Vic in 2011. This year, Andrew's co-choreographer, Jack Chambers, taps onstage as dance captain (in gold tap shoes, no less). Winner of season one of Australia's So You Think You Can Dance, Jack is something of a celebrity back home, and it's easy to see why. Now that he and his fellow dancers have settled in, we checked in with him to find out a little more about him, his role as co-choreographer and the show.

How did you become involved in Untapped!?
My involvement began way back in 2006, which is the year Untapped! was first created (it was titled something else at that time). I co-created the show with Andrew Fee and also performed in the original cast of five male tappers.

You and Andrew are co-choreographers. In what ways do you collaborate? 
We bounce ideas off of each other first and start a dialogue about what it is we want to achieve. The next step is sitting down with our music team and creating tracks for the show. Then we allocate sections for each other to choreograph, and some sections we do together.

What's your favorite part of developing a new number? 
My favorite part of developing a new number is the musical creation. I am a very musical person, so I am all about musicality, and making sure there are enough accents and intricacies to play with choreographically.
Untapped! ensemble
Jack Chambers is joined onstage by the Untapped! ensemble during their "Tribal Beats" number. From left to right: Sally Hare, Ginner Whitcombe, Jack Chambers, Kieran Heilbronn, Brianna Taylor.

What makes the Untapped! ensemble special?
The special thing about our ensemble is that we all have very different performance styles. We all blend really well together onstage, but remain individual in the way that we dance and perform. It's important to have diversity and light and shade through the show, not just in the choreography but within the cast and performances. 

What about Untapped! are you most proud of?
There are many reasons to be proud of this show, but one reason in particular, for me, is that the show has managed to be performed all over the world since 2006. It's truly satisfying to see audiences still loving this production. I am also proud of how the show has evolved over those years, with the changes of cast and the changes of choreography. 

What's been your favorite thing about performing at The New Victory?
Firstly, its a beautiful theater, with lovely staff and crew! And secondly, the audiences have been just wonderful. The kids and families that have come to see the show have truly made this experience memorable. 

What's your favorite place to go or thing to do in New York?
Central Park is my favorite spot in NYC. It's a wonderful place to get lost and take a break from the hustle and bustle of this spectacularly big, busy city! 

Why do you dance?
To put it simply, because I LOVE IT! I have done it my whole life. It's what comes naturally to me, and it makes me happy! 

Why should I see Untapped!?
Untapped! is a must-see because of its exciting, funny, rhythmical energy flown in all the way from Australia. We all have an absolute blast on stage, and it happens to be quite contagious!
  Untapped! is playing at the New Vic through February 21st. We hope to see you there! And if you happen to see Jack or any of his fellow dancers before the show, be sure to wish them "big chookas"—Aussie slang for "break a leg."
Posted by Zack Ramadan
"You must be very kind to him and teach him all he needs to know in Rabbit-land, for he is going to live with you for ever and ever!" — The Nursery Magic Fairy
Written by Margery Williams in 1922 and first illustrated by William Nicholson, The Velveteen Rabbit is a beloved and poignant classic. The National Education Association includes it on their teacher-compiled list of top books for kids, and our friends at Brightly dubbed the titular bunny one of the most lovable characters in all of kids' lit. (Though how could they not? The whole story turns on his lovability!)

The Velveteen Rabbit has been adapted many times in its 94 years. The latest interpretation, of course, in a season full of artful adaptations, is Unicorn Theatre's theatrical one, on the New Victory stage through the end of January. 

Before you come to see the performance, consider reading (or re-reading) the book as a family. Familiarity with the story can't hurt, as it does explore themes of loss and illness; and having it fresh in your minds will help you appreciate Unicorn's adaptation all the more—it really is wonderful! To help you get in a Velveteen mood, we've embedded the original illustrated version below, compiled by Free Kids Books. You can also download a PDF, visit your local NYPL branch or order a hard copy of the book—there are many editions.
If you know the story well, or if your family falls in love with it after seeing it onstage at the New Vic, then there are many more adaptations out there. Take a look at some video previews below:

Award-winning short film by Leonard Berman (1973), available on DVD.

Grammy-nominated storybook narrated by Meryl Streep (1985), available for download and streaming.

Enchanted Musical Playhouse version starring Marie Osmond (1984), available on VHS

Animated version narrated by Christopher Plummer (1985), available on DVD.
Do you have a favorite edition or adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit? Let us know in the comments below, or with #TheVelveteenRabbit on Twitter and Instagram.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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