Choreography: Brendan Cole
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
Star of Strictly Come Dancing, Brendan Cole makes sure that his current theatre tour lives up to its name, Licenceto Thrill, with a raunchy opening that hooks in his fans before taking them on a journey through a whole host of dance styles and emotions. Cole’s choreography is superb throughout and from a high energy Quickstep to ‘We Are In Love’ to the spectacular “cape-off” demonstrating the highly skilled cape work associated with the Paso Doble, and the crowd-pleasing recreation of the famous Mambo from Dirty Dancing to ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life,’ there are plenty of show-stopping moments.
Cole acts as host himself and as the show progresses he relaxes more and more into this rôle, creating a wonderful rapport with the audience and giving a real personal touch. His insights into the creative process and life on tour are amusing, heartfelt and inspiring, and delivered with a passion that draws the audience in and keeps the feel-good factor going between routines.
He may front proceedings but this is not ‘The Brendan Cole Show’ as the whole cast perform brilliantly as an ensemble, as well as each being given the chance to shine – and shine they do. Cole is partnered by another Strictly Come Dancing favourite, Aliona Vilani, with his brother Scott partnering Crystal Main, and Patrick Helm partners Melanie Hooper. There is not a foot put wrong from this fantastic team of six.
The other stars of the show are the Barry Robinson Orchestra and Singers who, outnumbering the dancers, take the performance to another level. It really adds to the show having the band and singers visible on stage, making them part of this dance performance.
Adding to the spectacle of the show are the beautiful costumes, an extravagant lighting design and use of pyrotechnics, but the production is a little unpolished with the odd late lighting cue, misplaced follow spot, and Cole dashing onto stage twice still buttoning his costume.
The format of the show may not be original or ground-breaking, and is basically what you would expect from a Strictly Come Dancing related stage show, but it is performed to the highest of standards. There are plenty of Strictly references and a Q and A session that inevitably generates questions from the audience about the television show, so this is definitely one for the fans – and those fans will love it.
On tour until 17th March 2014.