Thursday, September 28

Strictly Ballroom – The Lowry

Baz-Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom first ever UK tour hit Manchester’s beautiful Lowry Theatre, full of glitz and glamour this visually stunning adaptation of the 1992 film by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce revolves around a rebellious Australian dancer Scott Hastings (Kevin Clifton).

Directed and Co-Choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood with Co-Choreographer Jason Gilkison the coupling has created a masterpiece of dance, glamour, passion, and excitement.

Unfortunately, on press night after the opening number the creative team ran into technical difficulties resulting in the show being halted for approximately 10-15 minutes, which must have been very frustrating for them, and the audience did get a little fidgety by the lengthy delay.

After the initial hiccup the show went on, telling the story of Scott Hastings, born into a ballroom dancing family. Struggling to find his own personal style of dance and frustrated by the rules and regulations of the dictated ballroom style, he breaks the rules and loses a regional championship due to dancing his own steps his long-term partner Liz Holt (Agnes Pure). Liz furious by the loss leaves Scott with just 3 weeks to find a partner before the biggest Australian competition in ballroom dancing – The Pan Pacific Finals.

The story is of course a fairy tale, so we have the regular villains/baddies, the moral lessons, lovable characters, magic, humour, obstacles to face and of course the happy ever after. The show has hints of dirty dancing and west side story with a fabulous mixture of impressive vocals and magnificent dance moves.

Clifton’s on-stage dance partner and love interest is the fabulously talented Faye Brookes who plays the role of Fran a beginner with a head full of dreams just like Hastings. Brookes is no novice to the stage that is for sure with her impeccable interpretation of the awkwardly love-struck novice dancer with a huge accolade of Tv and musical theatre leading lady roles behind her. The chemistry of the coupling was palpable, and I have to say it was beautiful to watch throughout the performance. Clearly Clifton is the dancer with his elegant moves and purposeful passion in his Paso Doble and Brookes is the vocalist and established actress, but together the coupling is magnificent.

There were 5 changes in the casting for press night the role of Abuela was played by Michelle Buckley, Barry Fife was played by Kieran Cooper who did a sterling job, Doug Hastings was played by Ben Harrold who created a loveable and heart-warming character, Ken was played by Edwin Ray and Wayne was played by Stylianios Thomadakis.

The story line is predictable but has great entertainment value and is an absolute delight to watch with the elaborate ladies ballgowns and sequin filled male outfits, the glitter balls and the elegance of movement makes it a worthwhile theatre experience.

Personally, for me the star of the show was Rico, Fran’s father, played by Jose Agudo. Agudo lit up the stage from the moment he entered the show, he brought such power, passion, and emotion into the performance – his Paso Doble was just captivating, sexy and had me spellbound when he graced the stage…hot hot hot…

During the performance we heard recognisable songs such as ‘Time after Time’, and ‘Love is in the Air’ which always gives the audience a familiar feeling as it something they can relate to. Enormous credit to the cast, band, and creative team for delivering a fabulous night of total escapism.

The UK tour continues at The Lowry Theatre until Saturday the 1st of July, so grab a ticket and enjoy the journey of glitz, glamour, and razzmatazz as you are transported to the 1990’s ballroom era.

Reviewer: Katie Leicester

Reviewed: 26th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.