Director: Karen Bruce
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
Fleckerl away to Milton Keynes Theatre this week where you will be invited to share an evening with the wonderful Flavia Cacace who, with Leonel Di Cocco and Pasquale La Rocca, performs the effervescent Tango Moderno, choreographed by none other than ex-Strictly dancer Karen Bruce along with Flavia and Vincent Simone (Vincent cannot appear due to a serious back injury which has badly affected him throughout the current tour). One cannot fail to be impressed or to want to tango across that stage! Flavia may have been here before with Vincent, their last show being Last Tango that met with rapturous applause, but this excites – nay overawes – us in a completely different way in a story that envelops their oh-so-skilled dancing.
Tom Parsons, guitarist and very effective narrator with his super poetic updates written by renowned British poet Richard Marsh, is also an extremely talented singer with a wry sense of humour and a certain charisma. His rendition of Rag n Bone Man’s Human is nothing short of amazing and utterly moving.
What can one say about Flavia that has not already been said? She is totally engaging, completely passionate and, to boot, one of the most graceful, light and talented dancers of ballroom and latin to fly across this stage. With Vincent out of action, one might be forgiven for anticipating somehow a lesser show but this is definitely not the case given the help of Di Cocco and La Rocca – Argentine tango expert from Brazil and Italian World Champion respectively. Two for the price of one no less. They complement Flavia and each other. Di Cocco’s chemistry with Flavia is most assuredly real and their Argentine Tango divine, most especially the last one of all performed to Oliver Lewis’ superb violin playing of traditional Argentine music. The audience is taking sharp intakes of breath at this point and the atmosphere on stage and in the auditorium is electric. The applause at the end is deafening with many audience members on their feet, this reviewer included.
La Rocca has a very different approach and a noticeable self-awareness; he is a skilled and confident dancer and a great partner, particularly as he has to bend to set down Flavia, given their height difference. He is powerful and commanding but the chemistry is not there, it has to be said.
The ensemble cast is energetic, dynamic with each member having a varying range of talents. Some do Street Dance, some break, Rebecca Lisewska can literally leap from dancing to a jazz song straight to singing Ewan MacColl’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face up on the platform high at the back of the stage. What a voice she has in terms of tone and power. A talented woman indeed.
The music, under the direction of Jonathan Taylor, works really well with all the très modern pop songs, interspersed with traditional pieces, some RnB/soul and music from a whole range of eras. The story, such as it is is cleverly wound around the songs and dance and there is plenty of humour as well as the poignant moments. A great section involves cast members being wheeled on stage in various home and garden items and machinery including a lawn mower, a mop bucket and a wheel barrow!
Morgan Large’s set is simple but bright and effective with scenery and props being quickly and quietly moved on and off stage by the cast. Vicky Gill’s costumes are perfectly apt but those dresses worn by Flavia, in particular the floaty styles for the Argentine tango, are delightfully flowing. She looks beautiful in every one of them and wears them with ease.
An evening that will not be forgotten quickly which leaves one wanting to take up dance again and certainly to practise that Argentine Tango! Not to be missed.
Runs until 18 November2017 | Image: Manuel Harlan