Director &Co-choreographer: Karen Bruce
Co-choreographers: Vincent Simone &Flavia Cacace
Reviewer: John Roberts
Strictly Come Dancing stars and world tango champions Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have over the past five years brought us the theatrical productions Midnight Tango and Dance ‘Til Dawn both excellent productions in their own right, which beautifully showcased the pair’s love of tango and of dance… however instead of each production being a typical “showcase”, Director Karen Bruce alongside Simone and Cacace have created strong storylines, with this, their final instalment being the strongest of the trilogy.
George an elderly man (played with genuine warmth and sweetness by Teddy Kempner) is rummaging through the attic, finding items that trigger a not so distant past – past full of love, full of adventure but most of all full of dance. With each memory comes another segment of George’s life danced by Simone as the younger George. There are some touching moments of synchronicity between the pair as the past meets the present and makes the life of George even more tangible. Cacace, of course, portrays the love interest and it is easy to see why… the pair has an electric chemistry, the looks between them surge with sensuality and their moves are powerful and seductive.
The remarkable thing is the whole tale is told with a minimum amount of dialogue – in the 90minute production, perhaps only 20 lines of text is delivered. One would argue that this makes the production even more powerful. The dance and the emotion delivered through each movement becomespivotal to the show’s success and the cast alongside Simone and Cacace deliver that with aplomb.
The production wouldn’t be the success it is without lead vocalists Matthew Gent and Rebecca Lisewski’s performances – both delivering vocals that are rich and tantalising and when paired with Chris Egan and Matt Smith’s stunning orchestrations (One would love to hear a whole version of Guys and Dolls orchestrated by the pair if the small rendition of Adelaide’s Lament is anything to go by.) Under the baton of Musical Director Steve Geere the eight-piece orchestra sounds sublime, especially the brass/strings sections that really help the atmosphere of the era come across.
The shows success, however, doesn’t just stop with the performers. In fact, the production values of the whole show are nothing short of perfection. Morgan Large’s attic based set provides plenty of hidden gems but allows the dance to take centre stage. Vicky Gill’s costume designs accentuate the moves of the dancers and bring a flamboyant air to proceedings – but it’s the costumes worn by Cacace that steal the show – full of sparkle and elegance. James Whiteside’s lighting design pours atmosphere across the whole production, this isn’t typical stage lighting 1.01;instead, Whiteside uses the stage as a powerful canvas to evoke emotion and his colour palette warm and delicate. Credit must also be given to sound designer Richard Brooker who manages to deliver the rare feat of a perfect balance in the notoriously difficult venue of the Empire Theatre.
Heart-warming, heart-breaking and emotionally powerful, The Last Tango truly is a perfect piece of theatrical entertainment and deserves nothing less that the rapturous applause and instantaneous standing ovation, especially when that final titular dance is delivered.
Runs until 6April 2016 and continues on its UK Tour | Image: Manuel Harlan