Tap gods is more like it. Despite their T-shirts and jeans, their flapping flannel and rips and baseball caps, these six men constitute a tap pantheon. Every element of the show mythologizes them: the music that underscores their moves, the lighting that punctuates shifts and climaxes in the choreography, and most of all the ingenious transformable set, which frames their figures and amplifes their tapping at every turn. But like the stevedores and plantation workers who were the first tap dancers, these guys are also laborers: they build the set themselves, carting around metal slabs, hauling on ropes, carrying buckets of water. Of course everything here, including this contrast, is elaborately planned and executed, but the heart of Tap Dogs is the men–real men who are fabulous dancers and performers. Their personalities come through so strongly that I amused myself by giving them nicknames: Disco Boy, whose sinuous moves are unlike those of any other tap dancer I’ve seen; the half-comic, half-fierce Bantam; sporty Twinkletoes; Legs, who appeared shirtless early and often; Leader of the Pack; and Macho Chick, with dyed yellow hair and a jaunty profile. Everyone who’s ever written about this show seems to have used the words testosterone and machismo. These qualities have been much maligned in recent years, but the broad, wild river of male energy in Tap Dogs is so positive and sexy you just have to love men again. Through November 28: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30; Fridays at 8; Saturdays at 5 and 9; and Sundays at 2 and 7. There won’t be a show on Thursday, November 25, but there will be an additional show on Friday, November 26, at 2. At the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $20-$45. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 312-977-1710 for rates on groups of 20 or more.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Joan Marcus.