Get your sequins and feathers out and practice your best aussie accents as Strictly Ballroom comes to Milton Keynes theatre this week.
Strictly Ballroom - The Musical tells the story of Scott Hastings, a talented, arrogant and rebellious young ballroom dancer. When Scott’s radical dance moves see him fall out of favour with the Australian Federation, he finds himself dancing with Fran, a beginner with no moves at all. Inspired by one another, this unlikely pair gather the courage to defy both convention and their families and discover that, to be winners, the steps don’t need to be strictly ballroom.
This show is camp. In fact, it is so very camp that it feels it’s only one step removed from drag - although no drag race contestant would entertain the thirsty wigs on this stage. The show’s humour is in the same vein as Rock Of Ages, so if you liked that you will like this. However, I have to admit some of the scenes did not land well with me. I found myself cringing at the scene where Barry Fife is surrounded by men in their pants pretending to pee. Maybe it’s an Aussie sense of humour.
Tonight, there was no Kevin from Grimsby (which is a shame considering it’s a press night) but instead we were offered the talents of Edwin Ray as Scott. Edwin was a good dancer, but I do think half the audience had bought tickets to see a strictly champion. I wanted Scott to be stronger. He seems a bit indecisive and bullied by his mum and Barry. Edwin delivers this well but I did not warm to the character of Scott.
Faye Brooks plays Fran and she was absolutely outstanding. She demonstrated her triple threat talents as she can act, dance and sing magnificently. Faye has only joined the cast in the last week or so which makes her even more impressive. Faye said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the tour of Strictly Ballroom and can’t wait to work with the hugely talented cast. I’m so excited to be playing the role of Fran and making it my own“
I was blown away with Jose Agudo who plays Rico and his Spanish dancing. The scene just before the interval injects life into the show. Life with a Spanish flavour that was very much to my taste. I also wanted Rico’s sparkly jacket, so kudos to the costume designer – the costumes are spectacular but then I always love the costumes on strictly. I am a sucker for a sequin and some feathers.
Barry Fife played by Gary Davis was excellent. His wig did remind me of Donald Trump but it suited the character perfectly. He has a great voice and Gary delivered on Barry’s character. I also loved Quinn Patrick as Les. Quinn reminded me of a dancing version of Russel Grant. Quinn delivered his character fabulously. In my head I am watching Trump and Russel Grant which takes the show to a new kind of kitsch.
It might be the design of the show, but I wanted the dancing to be better. I get the ballroom is supposed to be boring so the alternative steps are outstanding, but I still wanted a good standard, even in the Australian federation there must be a standard to win. It was not to the strictly standard I expected with Craig Revel Horwood as director and co-choreographer so this show doesn’t get a 10 from me. But if you loved the film, you will love this. And it is an evening full of sequins, singing and salsa.
Strictly Ballroom is playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until 8 April 2023