Strictly Come Dancing Live returns to wow the crowds

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Strictly Come Dancing  The Live Show returned to wow a capacity crowd at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena last night. With Mel Giedroyc as the new host, and judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood returning to the judging panel, it was a night of classic entertainment, the biggest and best Strictly show yet.

The Strictly live shows are the glitziest and most glamorous events held at the Barclaycard Arena, with the arena transformed in a ballroom, complete with a huge glitterball, pink chandeliers and a series of props that turn a rather industrial auditorium into a vintage Hollywood setting for one group dance, and transports the audience to the seaside for another.

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This year the quality of the celebrity dancers is particularly high. This year’s winner Jay McGuinness is joined by finalists from 2015 and 2014, the excellent Georgia May Foote and Frankie Bridge, with snake-hipped semi finalist Jake Wood, and Anita Rani with her delicious partner Gleb, also part of the ensemble. Glamorous Helen George and super chef Ainsley Harriot complete the line up, with Ainsley definitely providing the comic value – although that doesn’t mean he’s not good because he can genuinely move and shake with the best of them.

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Every dance is a classic, but of course, some performances just stand out as truly memorable. The highlight of the night was Jay and Aliona repeating that amazing Pulp Fiction Jive, not just the best dance of this series, but one of the best Strictly dances ever. This also provided one of the most hilarious moments of the night when host Mel managed to pull Jay’s ponytail off and it ended up on ’10 from Len’s’ head. (Maybe you had to be there, but it was super funny and was an indication of just how much fun and verve Mel brings to the show). Another amazing dance was the sensual, sexy Paso Doble performed by Anita and Gleb, this one certainly raised the temperature in the Arena a few notches, although at least some of this was due to Gleb’s bare chested look. Georgia and Giovanni had earlier got the show off to a super start with a traditional Charleston performed ‘Chicago’ style, while Jake Wood reprised the Salsa that had alerted viewers to his snake hips that he had hidden so well on Eastenders.

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Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour Photocall - Birmingham

The whole evening is pure entertainment from start to finish, with stunning costumes, beautiful renditions of the show tunes by the incredible resident singers and dances that sparkled and shimmered, entertained and delighted. If you have a ticket to the Strictly Tour, you are in for a treat, an amazing night. If you haven’t got a ticket, get one – you totally deserve it.

For a full list of dates and venues, and all ticket information, click here.

 

The World’s Biggest Panto may just be the greatest ever

It has been billed as the World’s biggest panto, the only one that could boast of a cast of 100, an award winning gospel choir and a Bollywood dance troop. Cinderella opened in Birmingham at the Barclaycard Arena on Sunday night and it is totally wowing audiences with his mixture of panto, circus, dance and song. It is more than a mere pantomime, it may well be the ultimate Christmas spectacle. I was spellbound.

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We all know the story of Cinderella so I don’t think I’m spoiling the surprise for anyone when I say all the elements of the original story are in place, albeit with a slight twist in the tale. The handsome prince and his trusty sidekick Dandini are played by Dick and Dom with lots of verve and fun, and plenty of bogie mentions. The ugly sisters are very ugly indeed, as played by Brum faves, Foxy and Giuliano from Free Radio, all local jokes and stubble, whilst Hannah Grover is a perfect Cinders, pretty, pert and with the voice of an angel.

But of course, there are two comedy stalwarts in this panto, and they both absolutely shine like true stars. Paul O Grady is just hilarious, as dry and acerbic as ever as The (Fairy) Godfather, from the minute he flies in he has the audience captive, especially in a scene with a rather wonderful (talking…well sort of) horse, or when he scares off a 3d snake with a ‘Birkenhead headbutt’.  He makes a wonderful double act with the brilliant Bradley Walsh, playing Buttons and literally holding the whole thing together with his wit and wisecracks. No one is safe from Walsh, not even a little boy taking a toilet trip. This is a performer at his peak, making that huge stage is own.

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Cinderella is the most fun you will have this Christmas, warm and funny, and full of traditional Christmas cheer, from familiar songs, singing and dancing reindeers, polar bears and penguins, even with snowballs that bounce around the auditorium. As I mentioned in the introduction, the whole performance is a spectacle – from Bollywood Dreams singing and dancing to Slade, to the fantastic Birmingham Community Gospel Choir totally wowing with their amazing voices and gutsy performances. There were also fantastic feats performed circus style and the 3d effects which added to the all-round feeling that you were witnessing something truly special.

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With a finale that could be bottled and sold as Christmas, this is truly one of the greatest shows the Barclaycard Arena has seen. I loved every single minute of it. An absolute must see.

Cinderella has two performances per day concluding on Christmas Eve. Find Ticket information here.

The World’s Biggest Panto is coming to Birmingham

“…With a cast of over 100 performers including celebrity funny men Bradley Walsh and Paul O’Grady, and children’s TV stars Dick and Dom, the World’s biggest pantomime will run from 20-24 December 2015. Fun for all the family, witness spectacular performances, including a visit from Santa Claus himself, plus stunning 3D mega vision special effects!…”

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The World’s biggest Panto is coming to Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena this December. Combining a huge cast of over 100 performers, and taking place on an enormous stage in Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena, ‘Cinderella’ is going to be a spectacle not to be missed. The new pantomime takes all the classic elements of panto, and then makes them 100 times bigger and better. There will be a 50ft Castle where the ball will take place, stunning costumes and brilliant set pieces that will transport the whole audience towards Christmas and the festive season in true style.

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With a cast including Bradley Walsh, Paul O’ Grady and Dick and Dom, the show promises to be hilarious, with jokes coming thick and fast. Expect all your usual pantomime jokes and schemes, but with a marked differences, including 3d effects and, the novelty value of being the biggest pantomime around.

 

Cinderella – The World’s Biggest Pantomime

20 – 24 December 2015, Barclaycard Arena

http://www.barclaycardarena.co.uk/whats-on/cinderella

Information

Performance times:

Sunday 20 December 7.15pm

Monday 21 December 2.30pm & 7.15pm

Tuesday 22 December 2.30pm & 7.15pm

Wednesday 23 December 2.30pm & 7.15pm

Thursday 24 December 11am & 3pm

 

Tickets priced at £46.06, £38.50 & £27.70 (including admin fee & 70p facility fee) + £2.55 fulfilment fee.

Tickets on sale now from www.cindersbham.co.uk or 0844 338 8000.