I was really excited to be asked to review Strictly Ballroom at London’s Piccadilly Theatre. Not only because I am a fan of the film, but also a secret fan of Will Young! Well, what a thrill. One of the best feel good musicals I have ever seen, and boy or girl!, have I seen a few. Will Young was wearing a costume so tight it left nothing to the imagination. Glitz and glamour all the way from the start.
Strictly Ballroom is a musical extravaganza. Beautifully staged with breath taking costumes that would put many a drag performer to shame. As uplifting as a “Sparkle” weekend. Will Young held the whole show together with humorous efficiency. Zizi Strallen as Fran, and Jonny Labey as Scott Hastings unfolded an unexpected love story with amazing dance and vocal skills.
Zizi, one of the revered, talented and almost interchangeable Strallen sisters, turned herself from an ugly, clumsy duckling into a beautiful and talented swan. Wooing Scott with her unusual and unconventional dance steps, she managed to enthral one of the best ballroom dancers in the ballroom world at that time. Finally convincing him to follow her new style of dance. Although I am not a fan of EastEnders, more a Corrie sort of guy, I feel that Jonny Labey must have been wasted on the soap, unable to show both his vocal talents and dance steps on EastEnders.
Fernando Mira as Rico and Eve Polycarpou as Abuela, Fran’s father and grandmother respectively, were both outstanding in their separate and often conflicting roles. Rico’s flamenco style of dance was a show of its own. It was not surprising to hear that he was invited to Seville in Spain to perform for the Andalusian government.
It was interesting to see that the stage musical adaptation of Strictly Ballroom opened in Sydney Australia. Was performed at the West Yorkshire playhouse and now is enjoying a run in London’s west end.
Baz Luhrmann, creator and book writer, together with Craig Pearce, book writer, and Drew McOnie, Director and Choreographer were all perfectly in tune in writing and producing this camp and very satisfying show. The costumes designed by Catherine Martin were amazing in their construction and were fabulous in capturing the spirit of the period.
At the finale, the audience were dancing in the isles, and a well deserved standing ovation was offered to all the cast. Not forgetting the wonderful set and delightful orchestration I can’t wait to see the show again. Highly recommended as my go see musical of the year.
Matthew King for Canal St Online
For details of the show.