Brendan Cole: A Night to Remember – New Wimbledon Theatre, London

Musical Director: Barry Robinson
Host / Choreographer: Brendan Cole
Reviewer: Georgina Newman


Before the action gets underway,‘BC, BC’is what you read in large, unmissable, glitter-highlighted lettering on the back wall of the stage. Our host for the evening, one Brendan Cole (BC), is certainly enjoying his moment in the spotlight – as are his many adoring female fans – and he dives into the business of the show with boyish enthusiasm.

A Night to Rememberis Cole’s latest theatrical venture, following on from his debut theatre tourLive and Unjudgedand his second offering,Licence to Thrill.Known for his appearances in all 13 series to date of BBC One’sStrictly Come Dancingand his role as a judge on the New Zealand version of the show,Dancing with the Stars, Cole hosts a high-spirited spectacle of an evening in which live music and a variety of dance styles are celebrated.

A Night to Rememberchops and changes through the different dance styles that audiences have come to know and love onStrictly Come Dancing, from the passionately expressive Argentine Tango to the Viennese Waltz and the rhythmic Cha-cha-cha. The dancers are all on fine form, but the standout is perhaps Hanna Cresswell, an 18-year-old talent who is mesmerising to watch on stage, not only for her undeniable dancing talents but for her ability to look as if she’s enjoying every moment of every step.

A show that celebrates dance is made all the more powerful by the presence of a live band, and the band excels itself here, with drummers, trumpeters, saxophonists and pianists (Musical Director Barry Robinson is on piano) giving it their all. The two vocalists are in fine voice, and Julie Maguire deserves special mention for her inspired rendition ofLivin’ On A Prayer.Though the dancers and musicians are a resounding success, the staging isn’t. Ballroom dancing, and indeed most forms of dance, require a larger space, but here there’s only the front area of the stage free for the dancers as the band occupies a large portion of it. Though Cole and his dancers manage well with the space they’ve got to work with, there’s barely enough room for three couples to be on stage at the same time. The result is a loss of pace and momentum, while some of the dance sequences appear less fluid and flowing than they otherwise could be.

A Q&A session between Cole and the audience is largely redundant, and it seems scarcely necessary for Cole to spend so much of the show with the microphone in his hand. He’s no comedian, and his assertion that “the bad boy’s still in here” doesn’t quite justify his apparent fondness for poking fun at his formerStrictlycompanions (naming no names of course). Yes, he dishes on someStrictlysecrets, andStrictlyfans may enjoy his regular interruptions at the end of each singing/dancing number, but mainly you want him to stop chatting and start dancing. Cole is guilty of milking hisStrictlyconnection for all its worth, but then who can blame him?

This is, however, an enjoyable show. The live music and singing packs a punch while the dancing is sexually-charged, brightly-costumed and highly-energetic. Cole isn’t the world’s best choreographer, indeed, many of the dances throughout the evening felt rather samey, but he’s likeable, entertaining to watch, and he leads his cast admirably well. A great night out for the family.

Touring until3 April 2016 | Image: Contributed

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