theatre,  West Midlands

Strictly Ballroom The Musical Is Just Perfect Entertainment

Strictly Ballroom is one of the most beloved, iconic films of recent years. A quirky love story in the world of Australian ballroom dancing, it had a little known cast and, at that time, a little known director, the soon to be massive Baz Luhrmann. It became a smash hit, with audiences delighted by its raucous Aussie sense of humour, and its great big heart. Now, in a new musical directed by the other Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, it is a smash hit once again, one that had its opening night at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last night, and had the audience on their feet for a rousing standing ovation. Love is in the air…it definitely was in Wolverhampton last night.

Scott Hastings and his partner Liz are current ballroom dancing darlings, favourites to lift the Pan Pacific trophy, but after the rebellious Scott introduces some of his own steps into their routine, he ends up losing his partner to current champion Ken, and breaking his mother’s heart in the process. Scott has three weeks to find another partner to compete with, but is torn between wanting to win, and wanting to express himself by dancing from the heart. When novice dancer, and ugly duckling Fran presents herself as a new partner, he is in part horrified, and yet intrigued that she wants to dance his new steps. A partnership is formed, but behind the scenes his mother Shirley, her dance partner Les, and the all important dance boss Barry Fife are plotting to put Scott with a new partner, Tina Sparkles, although Barry may not be all he seems. Maybe Scott’s father, Doug, may be the one with all the answers, as we head to the climatic showdown at the Pan Pacific.

Strictly Ballroom is an absolute joy. It is a riot of colour on the stage, with the swirls of those iconic ballroom gowns of the past just making it a visual treat at all times. The music is a brilliant mixture of songs that worked so well in the film – Time after Time, Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, and the wonderful ‘Love is in the air’, along with new songs which just work brilliantly together. The scenes are fast and furious, often with lots of things going on at once, so you can never let your attention slip, making the show have the kaleidoscopic feel that we now associate with Baz Luhrmann. It is often frenetic, but is also totally joyful, and has that Aussie humour that often makes it hilarious. It is, in short, an absolute beaut of a show.

As Scott and Fran, Kevin Clifton and Maisie Smith are a match made in heaven. They have incredible chemistry that makes them a perfect partnership, and their dancing is just a dream to watch, matched by some of the best choreography you will see in theatre this year. Both have strong vocals, and Maisie shows off her comedy timing – she is an absolute hoot at times.  Nikki Belsher is also very funny as mom Shirley, with her smile stuck on at all times, whilst Gary Davis is also hilarious as the uncouth, skirt chasing Barry Fife, particularly in the ‘flashback’ scene. A special mention must also be made of the incredible Jose Agudo who dances a spellbinding Paso Doble that brings down the curtain on act 1.

For a night of ultimate, feelgood entertainment, the bold and beautiful Strictly Ballroom is hard to beat. I absolutely loved it.

STRICTLY BALLROOM: THE MUSICAL

14 Feb–18 Feb 2023

Click here for ticket information

 

 

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