Director: Craig Revel Horwood
Reviewer: John Roberts
Having first landed on our screens 12 years ago,Strictly Come Dancing has become a firm favourite for families up and down the land, and has become a staple in their Saturday night TV schedules. Following many live shows over the years, in some the biggest arenas in the UK, Strictly Come Dancing Live 2016 doesn’t disappoint and provides nearly three hours of dazzling dance and many a laugh… this is family entertainment at its finest.
Wielding their words of wisdom and their paddles of points, Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli lend their collective expertise throughout the night, of course playing up to their on screen persona’s even more than they are perhaps allowed on the television. Revel Horwood a critically astute as always, Goodman provides a lovable granddad figure who loves all his “children” and Tonioli like an overcharged Duracell bunny on heat. Holding the presenting fort for the first time on the tour is Mel Giedroyc who delights throughout. Her ease and ability to make anything light-hearted makes this show really come together, and one that has firmly positioned herself as the go to presenter for future tours – it’s just a shame that at times the evening feels a little too scripted and it looses just that touch of spontaneity.
The tour follows the same format as the TV show and why shouldn’t it? It is,after all, a formula that works. All couples have two dances throughout the evening and the audience get to vote on their favourites, which leads to the crowning of the city’s own champion.
The couples selected for this year’s tour probably provide the show with its strongest cohort of celebrity and professional dancers. Saturday’s star Frankie Bridge is reunited with Kevin Clifton, Country File’s Anita Rani once again duets with Gleb Savchenko while Call the Midwife’s Helen George partners with Aljaž Skorjanec. Corrie’s Georgia May Foote dances with her current beau Giovanni Pernice and current Strictly champion Jay McGuuness teams up with Aliona Vilani, with Eastenders Jake Wood joined again by Janette Manrara. In a change to the line-up Ainsley Harriot is no longer partnered with Natalie Lowe due to an injury, meaning she has had to pull out of the tour, but he gets a fine replacement partner in Karen Clifton.
The evening mixes up the dances bringing us light entertainment – mainly courtesy of Ainsley’s over the top antics, amorous and ardent American Smooth’s, tantalizing Tango’s and seductive Samba’s. There are dances here for every taste and when coupled by the strong on stage orchestra and the sensational Strictly singers the package is divine, from Hollywood themed group numbers to a Motown mash-up the energy is electric.
Mentions must go to George and Skorjanec who pull out all the classical stops especially their Waltz to Etta James’ At Last. Foote and Pernice bring the party with a dizzying Cha Cha Cha, but the eveing really belongs to two pairs; Rani &Savchenko and McGuiness &Vilani – both providing pure professionalism throughout. Rani &Savchacko’s American Smooth themed around the hit movie Ghost is an emotional number and McGuiness &Vilani pull out all the stops with a Pulp Fiction inspired Jive routine. Liverpool allowed McGuiness and partner to continue their reign as Strictly Champion’s but it’s a close call and proves anyone could easily take the crown in future cities.
As nights of live entertainment go, you really can’t go wrong with putting your best foot forward and buying a ticket to Strictly Come Dancing Live and to coin a phrase from the words of Director and Judge Revel Horwood, this evening is Fab-u-lous.
Reviewed on 2nd February 2016 – continues on tour until 14th February 2016. | Image: Contributed