Reviewer: James Garrington
Anyone who has watched Strictly Come Dancing will know of Brendan Cole – the bad boy of the programme, seeing how far he can bend the rules, but all in the cause of great choreography. What do the dancers do for the rest of the year, though? Well, in Cole’s case, he puts together a dance extravaganza and takes it around the country.
A Night to Remember marks the third show in the series, and it’s bigger and more extravagant than before. Cole has assembled a team of 14 musicians and seven more professional dancers to perform with him, as well as two vocalists. Together they perform a wide range of dance styles, most of which will be familiar to every Strictly fan – though freed from the shackles of the Strictly rules he has made it more spectacular than you will often see on television.
The cast state their intention right from the start, with a stunning Paso Doble – based opening which serves to also showcase the vocals of Julie Maguire, one of two vocalists in the show. Maguire has a powerful voice which she uses well to accommodate a range of different styles – necessary in such a varied show as this. She is working here with Iain Mackenzie, who similarly demonstrates a good flexibility and really comes into his own later with his version of Beggin’. Together with the musicians, they provide great support for the dancers.
At the end of the day, though, this is all about the dancing, and the dancers certainly know how to deliver. Together they sizzle through the ever-popular Argentine Tango, bounce into the Jive and entertain with a fun Charleston as part of an evening of beautiful Ballroom and lively Latin. Of course, these people can dance – you wouldn’t expect anything less – but somehow this seems to step beyond dancing into something more, with some moments, and some of the dancers, really standing out. Ryan McShane’s high-energy Lindy Hop really draws the attention early on, proving that it’s not just Cole who can lead the male troupe.
Cole manages to save many of the best bits for himself, including a Waltz with leading lady Giulia Dotta providing a lovely solo opening before he joins her on stage. Dotta is tall and elegant, a graceful partner for Cole in the Ballroom department. He later moves on to a lovely, flowing Viennese Waltz with Ksenia Zsikhotska. The real find, though, must be young Hanna Cresswell, at 18 years old a fairly late replacement for an injured dancer. She is a mesmerising dancer, not only in the romantic Slow Foxtrot she dances with Cole but throughout the evening, and it’s hard to keep your eyes off her – a name to look out for in future.
We all know that Cole can dance, but he also has a good presenting style. Part of the show includes a Q and A where audience members can send in questions or requests – a good idea, if it allows the audience to feel more engaged, but actually Cole already seems to spend so much time talking to the audience it’s a wonder he has time to draw breath between the dances. As a result it seems unnecessary, and breaks up the flow of the production: although there is no doubt that for some members of the audience it provides the highlight of their evening, including one lady at Symphony Hall who asked to do the Dirty Dancing lift with him – and Cole was happy to oblige.
The energy displayed on stage, and on occasion out in the auditorium, is amazing, with some very lively dances and costume changes in less time than you would believe possible – and beautiful costumes they are too, all adding to the colour, glamour and spectacle of the evening.
A Night to Remember is extravagant, colourful and dazzling – a must-see for any Strictly fan.
Reviewed on 20 March 2016 | Image Contributed