Strictly Ballroom the musical, with all it’s sequins and fake tan, has taken residence in the art deco walls of the Piccadilly Theatre. Based on Baz Lurhman’s hugely successful film of the same name(1992), it’s a joyous satire of the cut-throat world of eighties Australian amateur ballroom dancing and is likely to leave fans of the film grinning beneath the massive disco balls.
Will Young opens the show in a black sequined cat suit and a cheeky smile, guiding us through a night of camp delight as he takes on the new role of narrator and general sound-track. Young is warm and funny and his voice, which often takes on the inner world of the characters he observes, is very beautiful.
‘Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias’ (A life lived in fear is a life half lived) says our heroine Fran to Scott who is at the top of the Amateur ballroom dancing game but longs to break free from the strict regulations of the federation steps. Zizzi Strallen as Fran is a magical Cinderella figure, it’s a joy to watch her travel from spotty and down-trodden to beautiful, classy Spanish princess. Don’t expect any surprises here – just like the film, this is a feel good show about breaking free with a little romance thrown in.
Directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie, Strictly Ballroom is all about the dancing with Will Young covering most of the vocals. It feels like the cast, set and scenes literally never stop moving, bright swirling colours against the black brick and fire escape set. There are two spine tingling dances. Firstly the Pasa Doble danced by Fran’s Spanish father and Scott when the garish ballroom scene is contrasted with the fires and guitars of the Spanish community. The second is a gorgeous romantic sequence when Fran and Jonny fall in love. Zizi Strallen and Jonny Labey encapsulate sheer romance as they leap and glide, street light and moon flying in and Will Young singing Cindi Lauper’s ‘Time after Time’. A truly magical musical moment.
Slightly oddly both stand out numbers take place in the first Act and by the time we get to the finale for ‘Love is in the air’ glitter balls and falling confetti, the sheer joy has slightly subsided but, who am I to criticise a show that offer sheer joy at all. Go and see it!
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