I can honestly not think of a better way to spend a rather cold afternoon, than enjoying the endless delights of Strictly Come Dancing, performed live on it’s arena tour. For sheer glamour, fun and family entertainment, it is hard to beat, as a packed house at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena discovered yesterday.
Presented by the lovely Zoe Ball, and with a new judging panel that now included 2008 champions Camilla Dallerup and Tom Chambers (swoon and double swoon – read my previous post to find out why), the live show combines the best of the television series – the most accomplished dancers (in this case reigning champion Caroline Flack, the returning Rachel Stevens and Simon Webbe), the surprise packages (Mark Wright, Thom Evans and local favourite Alison Hammond), and those who never quite got it (poor old Scott Mills). All these elements go to make superb family fun, with memorable moments that never stop coming.
The standout dance of the afternoon was the Argentine Tango, a sensuous, mysterious dance performed by Simon Webbe and his partner Kristina Rihanoff that totally raised the roof of the Barclaycard Arena, and had the audience jumping to their feet in a spontaneous standing ovation. Also popular was Caroline’s American Smooth, performed with new partner Tristan MacManus, and Mark Wright’s two dances, which had the female members of the audience swooning.
Alison Hammond gave the show a sassy, disco edge and finally passed the fabled ‘7’ score when she was awarded a nine by the always charming Tom, whilst Rachel Stevens mesmorised with two dances that totally belied the fact she had only 6 days to learn them after stepping in for Frankie Bridge. Thom Evans showed why it was disappointing that he left the show so early – his ‘On the Town’ routine was another highpoint, and his partnership with Iveta showed real chemistry.
And then there was Scott Mills, not a dancer by any measure, but totally entertaining, particular when he made his entrance dressed as a crab. His banter with Craig Revel Horward was another entertaining strand to an afternoon full of them. (I loved it when he asked Craig if he was ever happy, and then told him to try telling his face.)
Strictly is the epitome of clean, wholesome family fun, and the live show is totally entertaining from start to finish. The finale, which included the whole ensemble and judges performing, is like a 1930s musical coming to wonderful life. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
For information on venues and tickets, click here.