REVIEW: Strictly Ballroom – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

This 2014 musical adaptation by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce of Luhrmann’s much-loved 1992 movieStrictly Ballroom, has moments of absolute joy and delight but unfortunately just as many of bum-numbing boredom.

It’s the tale of maverick ballroom pioneer Scott Hastings (Kevin Clifton). Confined by the rules of dancing federation tyrant Barry Fife (Gary Davis), all Scott wants is the freedom to dance his own steps. In the face of much opposition, Scott finds Fran (Faye Brooks) a neophyte dancer to fulfil his dreams, but the road to freedom is a rocky one.

Any faults with the production are the book and music. The cast are top-notch, managing to maintain the essential levels of energy throughout, there’s not a weak link among them. They wear the fake tan and dodgy wigs with aplomb. The accents throughout are a decent stab at Aussie, Clifton’s is particularly impressive. The female ensemble’s dance skills are on-point and Clifton, a trophy-winning alumnus ofStrictly Come Dancing, is of course outstanding. Outstanding too is Jose Agudo as Fran’s dad Rico, his Flamenco routine is an absolute show-stopper, one that brings the house down.

It’s the over-long first act with its largely forgettable tunes and where the filler outweighs the fantastic, that makes for a bit of a bum-numbing bore. This musical has been largely re-worked over its several iterations. The first largely comprising well-known and much-love hits has been replaced with a few familiar hits (Cindy Lauper’sTime After Time and John Paul Young’s Love is in the Air – now synonymous with the original movie) but the rest is padded out with mostly forgettable tunes from the likes of Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect. They add little to moving the story along and the lyrics are often lost. This is a universal problem with the dialogue as a whole often drowned by background music. That said, the live band are marvellous.

There’s a fantastic cast and some eye-popping visuals to feast your eyes on, but it was never going to stand up to the classic movie (it’s a lot to live up to). Despite its faults,Strictly Ballroom is an entertaining piece of fluff that provides a much-needed diversion in these dull days. Well worth catching.

Runs until 10 June 2023 | Image: Contributed

%d bloggers like this: