by Camille LeFevre   August 5, 2011

Camille LeFevre kicks off our 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage with an enthusiastic review of "Buckets and Tap Shoes" by brothers Rick and Andy Ausland, who've been putting on some iteration of this toe-tapper in every Fringe since 2004.

THE BOYS ARE ALL GROWN UP NOW. But that doesn't mean Buckets and Tap Shoes isn't fun anymore. Au contraire. Rick and Andy Ausland's gloriously funky, riotously percussive, tap-shoe-drilling, bucket-drumming and guitar-wielding show -- which premiered in the 2004 Fringe -- is still the same rousing all-ages crowd-pleaser it's always been. But this Fringe iteration is, well, different -- more mature, a little more laid back. And the younger brother Andy, rather than Rick, is now the show's star.

As a goofy master of ceremonies prone to magic tricks, good-timey mugging and well-timed physical comedy, Rick still tap dances smartly and with great panache. The ease with which he pulls off complex footwork and intricate drumming sequences attests to his love of entertaining and his remarkable showmanship. Andy, however, has emerged as a dancer of tremendous grace and technical acuity. He has the loose insouciance, precision footwork, and floaty flair of Fred Astaire. On the electric guitar, his playing is a kinetic mashup of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown, which he tops with an occasional shoulder squiggle that sends frissons of excitement into the crowd.

And the opening-night audience was rightly enthusiastic. The brothers' Celtic, balletic and marital-arts infusions to tap dance were silly and fun. Their tap pattering to classical music sounded like choreographed raindrops. Along with their band they launched into some serious funk, while Lightnin' Joe Peterson delivered a searing harmonic solo. We may be "MinneSnowDAH," as Rick announces, but at least we've got these dudes to light us on fire.

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Related performance details:

10 Foot 5 Productions presents Buckets and Tap Shoes, created by Andy Ausland and Rick Ausland. Remaining shows will be at the U of MN Rarig Center Proscenium in Minneapolis on Saturday, 8/6 (2:30 pm); Tuesday, 8/9 (10:00 pm); Friday, 8/12 (8:30 pm); and Saturday, 8/13 (10 pm).       

Check back regularly throughout the Fringe Festival for more short reviews on mnartists.org, sent in from our intrepid performance critics on the scene.

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About the author: Camille LeFevre is an arts journalist who writes frequently about visual art and architectures.