Strictly Ballroom: The Musical – Royal & Derngate, Northampton
Having sat and watched Strictly Come Dancing on television for many years I was looking forward to seeing Strictly Ballroom – The Musical which has been based on Baz Luhrmann’s award-winning worldwide film, Strictly Ballroom. Having never seen the film I was looking forward to gaining an insight into the world of Ballroom dancing, a glimpse of the reality behind the glamour & perhaps a few new dance moves!
How does the happy smiley world of the beautiful dancers on stage translate to the realty of life off stage? The backstage drama of real life competition, romantic intrigue & jealousy all combined to create a musical of fantastic dancing, stunning costumes, sexual chemistry & plenty of comedy!
Strictly Ballroom – The Musical tells the fascinating story of Scott Hastings, a talented but somewhat arrogant & rebellious young ballroom dancer whose daring dance styles breaks from the traditional rules of ballroom dancing much to the disapproval of many around him. When Scott’s radical dance moves see him fall out of favour with his long time dance partner he unexpectedly partners up with likeable beginner Fran played superbly by ex- EastEnders’ actor Maisie Smith, displaying plenty of infectious giggles & embarrassed laughter. This unlikely pair find the courage & bravery to challenge both conventions and their families expectations and discover that, to be winners on the dance floor & in life, the steps don’t always need to be strictly ballroom!
Edwin Ray – Scott Hastings
Unfortunately for many in audience on the night I was in attendance Kevin Clifton was unavailable to play the lead role of Scott Hastings, but Edwin Ray was a more than capable understudy for the former Strictly champion. Ray showed plenty of star quality & his dancing was superb combined with a wonderful singing performance & some great comedy acting.
Maisie, making her debut in musical theatre also has a tremendous singing voice and was the perfect comedy foil for Ray. Maisie Smith was the star of the show for me and was the one actor many in the audience had bought tickets to see on stage. Maisie had started her career as a child actor, I was amazed to discover she had been part of the Eastenders’ cast for thirteen years! In 2020 she had won the hearts of the nation when she reached the final of Strictly Come Dancing with co-star in this musical Kevin Clifton.
Jose Agudo was simply fantastic as Rico, the father of Fran, his flamenco & paso doble dancing was one of the highlights of the evening, & the dancing by the whole troupe at the dinner party was explosive, a fitting end to the first act. I am no dance critic, but I thought the paso doble dance routine was amazing, it had many in the audience stamping their feet & clapping their hands together, feeling the rhythm! Gary Davis was excellent as the overbearing Barry Fife and Mark Sangster was a class act as the downtrodden Doug Hastings, his dad dancing alongside his wife Shirley played by Nikki Belsher, during a routine reflecting on their past dance history, raised many laughs throughout the auditorium. There were many moments of comedy which lifted the storyline.
Strictly Ballroom – The Musical includes many smash-hit songs such as Love is in the Air, Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Cyndi Lauper’s classic Time After Time plus several new songs & music especially written for the musical by internationally acclaimed artists such as Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect. A finale rendition of Love is in the air bought many people to their feet, singing along with the full company on stage in appreciation of of a strictly joyous evening of superb dance & music!
The show was directed by dancer, choreographer, theatre director and Britain’s favourite TV judge, Craig Revel Horwood, and choreographed by Craig along with Strictly’s Creative Director Jason Gilkison. The musical bursts into life with some huge dance routines & truly stunning dance sequences which were simply spectacular. Some of the dance routines raised a few expressions of disbelief, bewilderment & curiosity on the face of my wife but generally the routines were entertaining. Well done Craig & co-choreographer Jason Gilkison.
Strictly Ballroom – The Musical was a fabulous, feel-good evening of sparkly sequins, powerful singing and dynamic & passionate dance routines which promised to be an unforgettable night underneath the glitter ball and it delivered!
Strictly Ballroom – The Musical continues all this week at Royal & Derngate, Northampton until Saturday 4 March 2023 at 7.30pm nightly, with matinees at 2.30pm on Wednesday and Saturday. Tickets are priced from £11* and can be booked by calling Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk.