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Dancing Queen - Darlington Civic Theatre

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 24th May 2012 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

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Dancing Queen – Darlington Civic Theatre

Well, the marketing material promised a ‘high octane, musical extravaganza . . . featuring a dynamic cast of singers and dancers, beautiful costumes and dazzling choreography’. On the basis of that hyperbole, Spirit Productions should be reported to the Trading Standards Commission for false advertising.

The far less impressive reality that was Dancing Queen was a tacky camp-fest of ABBA hits, medleys of ‘70s disco classics, and a compilation of highlights from the score of Saturday Night Fever. That, in itself, would have been bearable – and, perhaps, even fun – if the deliverance had not been so disappointing.

The ‘four amazingly talented lead singers’ (Simon Bulley, Jennifer Harding, Aston Dobson and Jessica Parker) merely sang along to pre-recorded back tracks, indicating that none of them possessed the vocal prowess to tackle the songs without such help and calling into question their suitability as ‘leads’ to begin with.

The company of 16 dancers struggled to get through the overly-ambitious and unnecessarily complex choreography in synchronisation and there were a number of occasions when I thought the male members, all of whom were shorter in stature than their statuesque female colleagues, might even drop them during the frequent, clumsily executed lifts.

The ‘Broadway Style’ production pieces may have been perfect for Pontins, brilliant for Butlins (the guys even performed one section in their redcoats!) or catered towards cruise ship audiences, but they fell significantly short of what the average theatre-goer might expect. And as for the glittering costumes, I would suggest that every panto dame and drag queen checks their wardrobes at their earliest convenience!

To me, this shambolic show is nothing more than a cynical attempt, by the production company, to fill a theatre and make a pot of money ‘hot on the heels of the huge success of the Broadway musical Mamma Mia’.

It’s a short-sighted strategy in the long run, as most patrons can only be conned once.

Steve Burbridge.

Runs until Saturday 26 May 2012.



1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 6 years ago
    Oh, Steve. I have actually stopped attending shows by "Spirit Productions" because I think you could have been describing any one of them above. Click track, 'holiday' camp, tacky, dubious leads ... says it all.
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