If the title of this excellent show reminds you of a popular competition on BBC1, you will have a clue as to what it is about. This will be confirmed when the show is introduced by the recorded voice of Craig Revel Horwood, though with a somewhat unfamiliar accent.
Mr Horwood hails from Australia, which is where the show is set, and can still speak Aussie himself. Strictly Ballroom is another of those screen-to-stage transfers which have worked so well, and is now on its first nationwide tour. It started life as a very successful movie in 1992, and was the inspiration for the phenomenally successful Strictly Come Dancing. Like its successor, it too is centred around a dance competition, in this case the Pan-Pacific Finals. And like Strictly on TV, it is a crowd-pleaser par excellence, with oodles of glamour, foot-stomping music, scantily-clad leggy lovelies, and amazing displays of terpsichorean temerity.
The story line is not devoid of cliché as the best male dancer in the dance academy is abandoned by his dancing partner because of his unorthodox moves, and reluctantly pairs up instead with an inexperienced ingenue who turns out to be a brilliant dancer herself. Despite parental disapproval and opposition from the powers that be, the couple put their hearts into it in every sense of the word. No guesses who wins the Pan-Pacific Finals!
Of course, it is not the story but the dancing that people will be coming to see. They will not be disappointed. The show is an extravaganza of choreographic displays, in which the light fandango is tripped spectacularly. Talking about the fandango, for me the highlight of the show is the performance of a haughty Spaniard who, scornfully dismissing a faltering attempt at the paso doble by the central couple, shows them how to do the real thing to the accompaniment of a Flamenco guitar.
It’s a knockout!
- By Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce
- Director & Co-Choreographer: Craig Revel Horwood
- Co-Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
- Starring: Kevin Clifton & Maisie Smith
- New Wimbledon Theatre, London
- Until: Saturday 12th November 2022
- Running time : 2¾ hours, including Interval