REVIEW: STRICTLY BALLROOM @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH
🎭 Strictly Ballroom
📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR
🗓 Monday 30th January 2023
FAB-U-LOUS FROM START TO FINISH
Playing this week at Theatre Royal Plymouth is Strictly Ballroom The Musical which is based on the 1992 Baz Luhrmann movie.
The show is set in Australia and I liked the fact that when you entered the auditorium, all the music being played was by Australian artists such as Savage Garden and Kylie Minogue. I thought that this was a nice touch.
The show opens with Scott competing at a dance competition but disappointing the judges when he dances non-traditional moves. This leads to his dance partner leaving him weeks before another huge competition.
Scott's mother Shirley and dance teacher Les are unhappy with him and try to push him to dance with the very glamorous Tina Sparkle. Scott decides to dance with Fran who is a relatively new dancer and not respected by her peers.
The story follows the pair as they prepare for the competition and features secrecy, love, despair and treachery, all with a backdrop of sensational ballroom dancing.
Taking the lead in this production are Kevin Clifton as Scott and Maisie Smith as Fran. Clifton is best known for being a former professional dancer from Strictly Come Dancing and lived up to expectations with his dance skills. His acting was also really good as was his Australian accent and I was surprised to discover that he had a good singing voice!
Smith was a finalist on Strictly Come Dancing in 2020 but is best known for playing Tiffany Butcher in Eastenders. She had exceptional characterisation as well as great comedy timing. She was sweet and charming in equal measures and had a pleasant singing voice.
I have to give a special mention to Michelle Buckley. She is an on stage swing who came on as Shirley half way through the first Act when Nikki Belsher was taken ill. Obviously noticeable that the actor had changed, Buckley completely embodied the character and kept the show going. This is yet another example of how vital swings are to the theatre industry.
A standout moment for me was when the characters of Doug, Barry and Les performed in a flashback scene. This was really funny and even the lead into it was hilariously done when a wig was handed to a character mid sentence!
Mark Sangster was hilarious throughout as Doug and Gary Davis as Barry was unlikeable in a likeable way and had some great moments.
The standout vocals for me came from Agnes Pure as Tina and I really loved Karen Mann as Abuela. She had a beautiful voice and I loved her character the most.
Obviously the star of the show is the dancing and there were some fantastic performances throughout, notably from Jose Agudo who showed real power and Adam Davidson who was a joy to watch.
The show is co-choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing royalty Craig Revel Horwood and Jason Gilkison and the dances throughout are remarkable. I especially enjoyed the Pasadoble routine which closed Act 1 which can only be described at sensational.
The ensemble really shine in this production and I enjoyed watching them throughout. I was especially drawn to Edwin Ray who had great stage presence and looked like he was having the time of his life on the stage.
The set design by Mark Walters looked fairly simplistic at first glance but was clever in its simplicity and worked very well within the production.
Overall, I absolutely loved this show. It was full of the feel-good factor and I would recommend it to anyone. The only reason for a 4.5 star rating instead of a 5 is that I felt the love story was not allowed to develop fully and even though they were both fabulous, I would have liked the two leads to have had stronger vocals.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical continues at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 4th February. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to check availability and book tickets. Best availability are for the matinee and evening performances today (Thursday 2nd February) and there are limited seats available for the other performances.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.
My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to the Press Night to review the production.
Scott Hastings: Kevin Clifton
Fran: Masie Smith
Shirley Hastings: Nikki Belsher / Michelle Buckley
Doug Hastings: Mark Sangster
Barry Fife: Gary Davis
Les Kendell: Quinn Patrick
Rico: Jose Agudo
Abuela: Karen Mann
JJ Silvers: Oliver Brooks
Wayne: Kieran Cooper
Tina Sparkle: Agnes Pure
Ken: Benjamin Harrold
Liz: Jasmine Joy
Vanessa: Maddy Ambus
Nathan: Adam Davidson
Charm: Jessica Vaux
Pam: Poppy Blackledge
Ensemble: Stuart Rouse
Ensemble: Edwin Ray
Ensemble: Liv Alexander
Ensemble: Hollie Jane Stephens
On Stage Swing: Stylianos Thomadakis
2 hours 20 minutes including an interval
The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West.