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Strictly Ballroom - The Musical

Published by: GRAHAM CLARK on 11th Dec 2016 | View all blogs by GRAHAM CLARK

In what is quite a coup for the West Yorkshire Playhouse the award winning Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom - The Musical has received its premier in the UK at the venue.  I usually associate the venue with plays and not musicals. The playhouse has a sunken stage with seating all around which makes it ideal for watching the dancing.

If you want to cast your winter blues away the show is the perfect antidote: colourful, glitzy, funny  and as you would expect, brilliant dancing. Within the first 5 minutes of the curtain going up there was more glam, hairspray and glitz than you would be hard to find in 2 hours in some shows. The larger than life characters have personalities as bold as the dancers costumes.

The story revolves around Scott Hastings (Sam Hastings) who sets out to win the Pan Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championship contest in Australia where the musical is set. His parents have entered the contest when they were younger but alas did not win. 

In true Cinderella style the young Fran (Gemma Sutton) who is the overlooked cleaner at the dance school takes off her glasses and shows her dance moves by teaching Scott how to dance from the heart. Of course there is competition for Sam to dance instead with the glamorous Tina Sparkle (Charlotte Gooch).

There are the pushy parents too, Sam's mother, Shirley Hastings is played brilliantly by Tasmin Carroll, always pushy and at times forceful she had some of the best lines of the night. The downtrodden husband Doug Hastings (Stephen Matthews) is at times feeble letting his wife take centre stage.

Richard Dempsey as the host of the show played JJ Silvers with an over the top charm, sometimes like a younger version of Shane Richie with his comic mannerisms.  One of the best sequences of the first half is when Fran's Spanish father, Rico (Fernando Mira) shows Scot how to really dance the Paso Doble. His dancing had the whole audience spellbound.

There are the songs too, Scott and Fran duet well on the Cyndi Lauper track, Time After Time, the John Paul Young hit, Love Is in the Air is sung twice, in the first half they slow it down and you think it was a missed opportunity to sing the song at its original pace until you find that the song is sung in the correct style in the superb finale. It was of the songs had been written fir the musical as their lyrical content fitted in well with the storyline.

The night ends as spectacular as it started with the dancers in the show even walking up the aisles during the finale.

As Scott's mother, Shirley is fond  of saying throughout the evening "I'm wearing my happy face today", you will be wearing your happy face too when you have seen this colourful and spectacular show with, as you would expect, awesome dancing. A triumph for everyone involved.

Runs until Saturday 21 January 2017

Telephone: 0113 213 7700



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