If you enjoy glitz, glam and Will Young, you will enjoy Strictly Ballroom
Will Young opens the show as narrator Wally Strand and stays on stage the whole time, with an embellished flamboyance and overenthusiasm in a manner that reminded me of Graham Norton. He struts camply around the stage between the scenes, captivating the audience with his gorgeous vocals. Unfortunately though, even Young singing beautifully-arranged classics such as It’s the End of the World and Love Is In The Air doesn’t do much to save us from a bit of a disappointing adaptation.
Strictly Ballroom transports the audience into the stern world and strict rules of ballroom dancing, and tells the tale of dancer Scott Hastings (Jonny Labey) who wants to break away from traditional dancing and create his own moves. After Scott’s dance partner Liz (Lauren Stroud) becomes sick of his tearaway nature, he finds an unlikely partner in dowdy, glasses-clad Fran (Zizi Strallen), who of course soon whips off the specs and frumpy jumpers to show her slender, sexy side, learning Scott’s moves in a matter of weeks.
With choreography by Drew McOnie, Strictly Ballroom is slick and spectacular to watch, but the jokes seem a bit arduous, and there isn’t much heart in it. There were high hopes for a more promising production towards the beginning during the heartfelt scene where Scott and Fran first dance, accompanied by Will Young singing Time After Time in a way that almost brought tears to my eyes, but this for me was the peak, and it didn’t quite reach the same heights after that.
I’ll admit I enjoy shows like Strictly Come Dancing on occasion, and so I was expecting to be just as entertained as I was when watching Andy Murray’s mother show off her moves as she did on the show a few years ago, but despite a good score (mostly consisting of classic hits), flashy costumes and fabulous dancing, Strictly Ballroom brings nothing new to the West End scene.
If you enjoy glitz, glam and Will Young, you will enjoy Strictly Ballroom. Just be prepared to be urged to get up and dance before the bows begin, giving a standing ovation at the end whether you like it or not.