I must admit I was not particularly looking forward to watching Strictly Ballroom – The Musical. I am not a big ballroom fan and the idea of watching a show of dancers parading about on stage did not really appeal.
How wrong I was – at the end of the show I came out of the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford with a huge smile on my face along with the rest of the audience after experiencing this spectacular show.
Radical and daring style
Based on Baz Lurhmann’s 1992 hit film, this new musical has been directed by Craig Revel Horwood, one of the judges on the TV show Strictly Come Dancing. The connection to the hit TV series does not stop there – one of the leading stars of the musical is Kevin Clifton who appeared in the series as one of the professional dancers.
Clifton plays Scott Hastings – an arrogant, rebellious young ballroom dancer whose radical and daring dance style sees him fall out of favour with the Australian Dance Federation. He then teams up with a new dance partner Fran (Faye Brookes) who has no dancing experience. Together they find the courage to defy the cynics and discover that to win, your steps do not need to be strictly ballroom!
Epic dance scenes
If you are familiar with the film version, you will know that there are some epic dance scenes – which are replicated in this stage production. I could see elements of other dance sequences in the show, incorporating some phenomenal dance moves from other musicals such as Cabaret and West Side Story.
Set in the 1980s, the songs such as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Love Is In The Air by John Paul Long are all performed with ease by this talented cast. The costumes are glorious, the wigs slightly over the top and altogether the effect is one of pure joy.
Whilst many might have thought that Kevin Clifton was the leading star, amazing as he was the star of the evening for me was Faye Brookes. Her singing, dancing and charisma shone throughout. You will see the former Coronation Street star in a new light after witnessing this superlative performance.
Watch out too for Stylianos Thomadakis who played Rico. The dancer was standing in for Jose Agudo though you would not have known it as the audience were silenced by his brilliant Paso Doble as he brought the first half of the show to a climax. Even the sweet paper rustlers were silenced by his magical dance steps.
Euphoric ‘underdog overcomes all’ tale
The fake Australian accents might grind at times but that was soon forgotten with a script that is full of humour and a euphoric ending with the underdog overcoming all to rise to the top.
If you want a feel-good show to brighten up your life you could do a lot worse than watching this highly entertaining musical – and that is coming from someone who was initially reluctant to see the show.
You will leave the Alhambra with your toes tapping – and you might even still be singing Love Is In The Air the morning after. An unexpected surprise.
Runs until Saturday 1April before moving on to Milton Keynes, but will return to Yorkshire for 24–29 April in York, and then 3–8 July in Leeds. For more information visit the Strictly Ballroom website.