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TapMan lets his feet do the crime-fighting

Tapman (akTristan Bruns) dances inSkokie.

Tapman (aka Tristan Bruns) dances into Skokie.

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‘TapMan: z

♦ 7:30 p.m. Fridays, through Jan. 25

♦ Gorilla Tango’s Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave.

♦ Tickets, $15

♦ (773) 598-4549;

Never underestimate the power of tap dancing.

Case in point is TapMan — a tap-dancing superhero who will fight evil at the Skokie Theatre every Friday night in January in “TapMan: Origin.”

We hate to blow TapMan’s cover but the crime fighter’s real name is Tristan Bruns. He shared the tale of how a mild-mannered dancer became a superhero.

“Growing up, I was always reading comic books until they became four bucks and I couldn’t afford it anymore,” Bruns said. That inspired a dream. “I wanted to make a family show that I would have wanted to see when I was a kid.”

Bruns began dancing in musical theater when he was 9. He had a life-changing experience when he was in a kids’ version of the stage musical “42nd Street.” The cast was required to take a six-week tap dance class to prepare for the opening number. That class changed Bruns’ focus.

“I stopped doing musical theater and kept tap dancing,” he said. When he was 20, Bruns added tap dancing improvisation to his skills set.

Since he was in his teens, the former comic book addict has been thinking about incorporating TapMan into his dance routines. “I’ve written scripts for this character,” hesaid. “One of my life’s aspirations was to put on a TapMan show.”

The character first emerged onstage six years ago at the Lake Shore Theater. Bruns is taking his superhero alter ego to a new level at Gorilla Tango’s Skokie Theatre in a production that includes vignettes (danced by Bruns) about his TapMan character.

“He starts out as Albert Scientist — A Scientist,” Bruns said. He meets a girl at a tap dance class and wants to impress her so he creates a formula to make himself a super tap dancer. Turns out the formula is stronger than he intended and soon he is a tap-dancing crime fighter. Most often he battles a villain played by dancer Zada Cheeks.

“He kidnaps TapMan’s girlfriend all the time,” Bruns said.

Rounding out the show’s cast will be members of Julie Cartier’s dance company, The Cartier Collective.

“Tristan danced with my company for a short time,” Cartier said. “He came to me a couple of years ago with this idea of his own show as TapMan. He was looking for an ensemble group to back-up and be a vehicle for the story. He thought we would be a perfect fit.”

Six of Cartier’s dancers will perform in the show. They will do a couple of numbers from the Cartier Collective repertoire and serve as characters in TapMan segments.

Cartier described the show as “a great way for Tristan to show his skills along with his sense of humor and quirky personality. “He’s an incredible tap dancer. His skills are amazing. This show allows him to define who he is as an artist.”

Also playing a role in the show is singer-songwriter Kyle Greer, who will serve as accompanist. “I’m also going to be singing and providing some original music,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice mix.”

Greer described working with tap dancers as being “almost like playing with a percussionist because they do so much with their feet to keep the rhythm. I have to really, really pay attention to what they’re doing but it’s fun. It keeps me on my toes.”

“In true comic book fashion, the show ends on a downer,” Bruns revealed. “But there is something that alludes to the future of TapMan. He’s not done yet.”

Myrna Petlicki is a local free-lance writer.

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