Strictly star Kevin Clifton takes to the stage in this irreverent, frenetic dance musical based on Bazz Luhrmann’s cult 90s movie of the same name. Naomi MacKay got caught up in the sequins and sparkles at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre – where the show runs until Saturday 17 June.
Ballroom dancing supremo Craig Revel Horwood is director and co-choreographer of this touring show – and, as he is not backward in coming forward, it’s no surprise that he makes a cameo (voice) appearance at the start of the show. It is suitably bonkers – and sets the scene for the rest of the performance.
The first act simply explodes onto the stage, as we meet all the dancers – there’s whirling dresses, sequins galore, and an introduction to the VERY big personalities we are to meet as the show progresses.
The dancing is, of course, fabulous, darling – and sometimes there’s so much going on it’s sometimes hard to know where to look.
If you don’t know the story, it follows top amateur ballroom dancer Scott (Kevin Clifton), who dares to be different – breaking the rulebook with his own dance moves – much to the chagrin of his veteran dancer mother Shirley (wonderfully played by Nikki Belsher). Faye Brooks (Coronation Street) plays Fran, the timid newcomer, who encourages Scott to play by his own rules, and eventually comes out of her shell to transform into his dancing and romantic partner.
There’s plenty of comedy – some a little close to the wind (as anyone who if familiar with Bazz Lurhmann’s camp, quirky and irreverent work will already know), so bear in mind if you’re thinking of taking the kids (age guidance is 12+) – but it’s all played well and results in some bizarre but memorable scenes (I won’t spoil these for you).
The Paso Doble flamenco scene at Fran’s home with her family and friends is another memorable point in the show – with Jose Aguda as Fran’s father fully deserving the shouts and applause for his dance routine.
There are too many wonderful performances to mention them all, but Danielle Cato as star dancer Tina Sparkle commands the stage with her sensational dance moves, and Karen Mann as Fran’s grandmother makes the most of what is quite a minor role to make maximum impact.
The music combines some original numbers such as Time After Time, Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Happy Feet, with some original numbers – I especially enjoyed the comedic The Looks, The Charm by Doug, Barrie and Les (Elliot Wheeler, Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce) – as did the rest of the audience.
The second half does feel a little rushed in telling the story – and my companion who had not seen the original film found it a tad hard to keep up.
But the show ends on a fabulous high as the dancers take part in the Pan Pacific Finals – and we left the theatre, singing Love is in the Air all the way home.
If you want a fabulous, frenetic, and feel-good night out – waltz all the way to the Waterside theatre this week!
Image credit – Ellie Kurttz