Musical Director: Barry Robinson
Choreographer: Brendan Cole
Reviewer: Sue Collier
A show subtitled A Night to Remember suggests that it is likely to remain in the memory for being one of outstanding quality. This show has been running for over a year with an audience that comprised Strictly Come Dancing devotees of the highest calibre who were looking forward to a show starring their favourite Strictly bad boy; dancer and choreographer extraordinaire.
On entering the auditorium, it was immediately evident that very little stage space was available for Brendan Cole and his ensemble to actually dance on. The band took up the majority proportion of the stage, with pyrotechnics machines further limiting the area available to dance.
Choreographing an interesting programme in such limited space is challenging and in the main throughout the evening, three couples danced in a line with little flow of movement or distance covered. The costumes were high in quality and variation, but the lack of movement throughout the show failed to demonstrate them at their best.
The general quality of dancing was variable and it was noted that some dancers mouthed the words of the songs throughout their performances; strongly criticised on Strictly. Cole did a tender Viennese Waltz but,on the whole, could have done more to impress. The Paso Doble, danced to Living on a Prayer was difficult to watch, the result being Cole was honest enough to acknowledge that he had danced the worst Samba he had ever performed in his life. Suffering from illness and unable to perform any lifts, Cole was constantly moving aside to recover his breathand left his dance partner dancing solo. However, all credit to her professionalism for coping during so many group dance routines throughout the majority of the evening.
During the interval, those members of the audience who had paid for a programme were invited to fill out questions on a card for Cole to answer during a Question and Answer session with Musical Director and Pianist Barry Robinson. Little of interest was actually revealed about Cole himself in this section of the show, during which he made general quips about his Strictly colleagues and spoke about his favourite and least favourite celebrity dance partners. Despite the difficulties faced during this performance, the audience loved him and were particularly endeared by his dancing with a little girl in the audience.
Having a good live band really helped the ensemble, the real stars of this show being singers Iain Mackenzie and Julie Maguire, who demonstrated fantastic chemistry together, perhaps more so than was observed between those dancing. Their vocals were strong throughout and there was real emotion in their duets, with Mackenzie performing particularly well and holding the show together. Her rendition of Cinderella was particularly charming.
Sadly, not a night to remember, and even with its star performer in good health, this show needs significantly adapting to become more dynamic and varied in structure with a more pleasing flow of movement.
Touring nationwide until 3 April 2016 | Image: Contributed