Strictly Ballroom, Piccadilly Theatre | Review

Strictly Ballroom
Piccadilly Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 23rd May 2018 by Nicola Louise

Every now and then a show fly's into theatres that involves more sequins and glitter that you can shake a stick at... this is DEFINITELY one of those shows!

Set in Australia, in the crazy world of ballroom dancing competition, the show focuses on Scott Hastings (Jonny Labey), a young boy wanting to break out of the norm. There's no denying Labey's skill on the dance floor but it's his ability to adapt to different to the various dance styles with ease and grace that make him really stand out. When joined by Fran (Zizi Strallen), you're blown away by the chemistry of the two. Strallen's character has the perfect edge of adorableness and elegance. When dancing, this elegance shines through and even as the dance and drama become more intense, she retains her somewhat geeky side.

Will Young stars as the host of the Ballroom competition and the shows narrator, Wally Strand. Young has the comedic timing down like the best of them, however, I felt his voice let him down. Although a great singer, it's clear that Young's voice still has more of a pop sound than a traditionally musical theatre one and at points I felt his voice was not as strong as needed.

Strictly Ballroom is very predictable but this doesn't take away from it. I was still awe struck by the amount of talent each dancer has on stage; "Watching this makes me want to learn how to Ballroom dance" said a friend of mine, and I was right behind her on that, you'll be mesmerised my the swift movements and sparkles.

I wasn't a huge fan of Anna Francolini, playing Scott's mother Shirley Hastings. Although clearly a very funny actress, I couldn't help cringe a little at her over the top interpretation which at times felt a bit panto. (Think Kath and Kim do Panto!)

Although this show focused on the dancing, it is classed as a musical and maybe I'm wrong but I would expect more than one person singing. Young sings the whole show with the main characters singing one or two lines at the very end. It would be nice to have more variety of voices, especially as I didn't feel Young's voice was strong enough to carry a whole show by himself.

This show is perfect for all the family and anyone who loves ballroom dancing, the comedy is perfectly timed and the direction by Drew McOnie is perfect. 

There was a full theatre standing at the end cheering and clapping, something which I assume happens every night after this up-beat, joyful musical.

Strictly Ballroom runs at the Piccadilly Theatre until October 20th 2018

photo credit: Johan Persson

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