Director: Craig Revel Horwood
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Reviewer: Steph Rowe
BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing bring their live arena show back to the Echo Arena for two nights only. Keeping the same format as the hit TV show professional dancers are partnered with fellow celebrities from the most recent and past series to dance their way to the top of the podium and gain the coveted Glitter Ball trophy for that night. The bonus is the audience get to live vote for their favourite meaning every night a different outcome is possible.
Tour director and Strictly’s own “Mr Nasty” Craig Revel Horwood brings his trademark tongue in cheek humour and honesty to the judging panel alongside 2008 Winner Tom Chambers and dance partner Camilla Dallerup – this line-up in comparison to other years felt a little flat and overly scripted – thank heavens then for Anton Du Beke appearing as a guest judge whose honesty brought a breath of fresh air to the panel. It’s a shame Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli couldn’t appear – one presumes because of their US filming schedule. Tour host Zoe Ball does an admirable job of keeping things on track and keeping the banter and conversation between the judges and contestants flowing, however it always felt like hard work even for the consummate professional she is.
Each pair, like the TV show have to perform two different styles of dance – one in each half of the production and many reprising iconic dances from their time on the show. The pairings for Liverpool being Thom Evans with Iveta Lukosiute, 2014 Winner Caroline Flack and Tristan MacManus, Alison Hammond with Aljaz Skorjanec, Radio 1’s Scott Mills alongside Joanne Clifton, 2008 Runner Up Rachel Stevens with Kevin Clifton, Simon Webb and partner Kristina Rihanoff and last but not least Mark Wright and Karen Hauer.
Dancing highlights in the show include a comical reprise of Under the Sea from Scott Mills, Mark Wright and Karen Hauer’s Foxtrot and Rachel Stevens and Kevin Clifton’s tantalising Tango, but the show stealing performance came from this evenings winning duo of Simon Webb and Kristina Rihanoff’s Argentine Tango which soared and sizzled, sending electricity through the auditorium resulting in a standing ovation from the arena audience.
Live music was supplied by Allan Rodgers and his nine piece band which sounded fantastic and rich and brought a level of sophistication to proceedings. Singers Rietta Austin, Tommy Blaize, Andrea Grant, Lincoln Jean-Marie and Hayley Sanderson bring sensation vocals to the evening. Credit must also be given to the ariel performer who danced with grace and finesse during two of the production numbers.
Despite misgivings in some of this year’s choices in presentation and line-up Strictly Come Dancing Live! Still remains a fun filled family evening of dance and well worth a visit if you are fans of the show.
Runs until 4th February and continues on tour | Photo: Manuel Harlan