Tag Archive: Strictly Come Dancing

Love is in the air, everywhere I look around.

That may be so, but wonderful dance is also on the stage in this musical version of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom. Based on the 1992 film of the same name, itself adapted from Luhrmann’s original play, Strictly Ballroom tells of the love affair both on and off the dancefloor between talented amateur, Scott Hastings and beginner, Fran. When Scott loses his dance partner due to him wanting to pursue his own style, Fran persuades him to take her on and compete in the Pan-Atlantic Grand Prix Dancing Championships.

Strictly Ballroom — Birmingham Hippodrome — 31 October 2022

With the popularity of the another Strictly (Strictly Come Dancing), this musical can be equally well-received. But for that you need a strong script, good music, and most important in a dance themed show, brilliance on the dancefloor. Thankfully, we had all of that. The book by Luhrmann himself and Craig Pearce is sound in character development and funny. But it was dance along with excellent vocals which had the audience wowed right until the end. Choreographed and directed by Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel-Horwood with co-choreography from Jason Gilkinson, even dancing ignoramuses like me were impressed. Then, under the musical supervision of Stuart Morley, we had excellent vocals from all involved.

In the lead roles of Scott and Fran we had Kevin Clifton and Maisie Smith respectively. Both excelled in song and dance, as you would expect and were equally supported by Nikki Belsher (Shirley Hastings), Mark Sangster (Doug Hastings), Gary Davis (Barry Fife), Quinn Patrick (Les Kendall), Oliver Brookes (JJ Silvers), Jose Agudo (Rico) and Karen Mann (Abuela) among over 20 cast members.

Best number of the night for me was the Paso Doble at the end of Act One, full of energy and breath-taking excellence, however, Beautiful Surprise ran a close second with amazing vocals from Clifton and Smith. I also had fondness for the Barry Fife comic number, Dance to Win, performed by Davis. In among the original score with offerings from Sia and Eddie Perfect, were retro classics in the form of Tequila, Time After Time and during the finale, a rousing and feelgood, Love is in the Air.

Strictly Ballroom — Birmingham Hippodrome — 31 October 2022

The whole show was not only a spectacle of dance though. Mark Walters colourful costumes were equally sparkling as was the impressive (and rather surreal) wooden curved panelled set. Add some great lighting from Richard G. Jones and you had the icing on the cake. At the end, most in the auditorium were on their feet and it was great to see the band on stage too for a bow.

This production; I loved it. The only criticism is a minor plot device with the cliché of Fran only considered attractive once she’d changed from unfashionable clothes and removed her glasses.

Strictly Ballroom is touring the UK the rest of the year and into next summer. Even if you are not a fan of dance, do not let this put you off. This is a fabulous show, darling.


Antony N Britt

Three years ago, I attended and reviewed Brendan Cole’s All Night Long spectacular at Birmingham Symphony Hall. Now, I always notify parties of my reviews and on that occasion, I was overjoyed to be appreciated by Brendan with his thanks via Twitter. I said, although not particularly a fan of Strictly Come Dancing (It’s more girlfriend, Michelle’s thing), I had thoroughly enjoyed it and would return and review next time. And here I am …

We began with The Greatest Showman and from the same movie – Come Alive. This was to be expected as the event itself was titled, Brendan Cole Show Man. What I didn’t anticipate was the immediate appearance of about thirty or so children singing backing (with moves) to several segments of the show, courtesy of Stagecoach Performing Arts Solihull. It’s no secret, I love the inclusion of kids as they are the future. And what a joy it was to see genuinely elated faces with this possibly being the most magical moment of their lives so far and encouraging them to be stars of the future. Well done, Stagecoach.

But back to Brendan …

After that rousing start, we saw the full spectrum of dance from a waltz with the music of Send in the Clowns to a salsa during Despacito. Other personal favourites of mine were Another Day of Sun (Quickstep) and Purple Rain (Contemporary Rumba). However, my top moment was the beautiful Cinderella which is a lovely story dedicated to Brendan’s daughter, Aurelia, and featuring a member of the Stagecoach choir in Violet. What a moment, indeed, for this young lady. Ending the night with a rousing jive was the always popular, Footloose, and not only were feet moving on stage, just about everyone’s in the audience were too.

Supporting Brendan immensely were his team of dancers including the ever-brilliant Crystal Main along with Kallyanne Brown, Alexandra Busheva, Andrea De Angelis, Antonio Careri, Giancarlo Catenacci and Francesco Sasanelli. Musical Director and pianist was Barry Robinson who deserves much credit for merging these art forms with his excellent band which also included violinist, Brigitta Bognar. Again, like my previous Brendan experience the male vocals were delivered in fine form by Iain Mackenzie and complemented superbly this time by Jenna Lee-James.

And it wasn’t just song and dance. Brendan always engages well with the audience and shows just how much his fans mean to him. Of course, there were also mentions of Strictly, a show where (my opinion) Brendan is much missed now. Plus, the obligatory friendly digs at Anton Du Beke. And Brendan’s mum was in the audience too, which was nice.

I will admit, I still don’t often watch Strictly (I prefer The Greatest Dancer), but I do love a great night’s entertainment and Brendan Cole Show Man was certainly that.


Antony N Britt

I’ll admit it now. I know nothing about dance, as my society’s choreographer will testify. I can’t tell a Cha Cha from a Paso Doble. Therefore, you may wonder how I can comment on and review a dance show? Well, there must be others out there like me, so what’s in a show like this for the uneducated? The answer – plenty of entertainment.

Brendan Cole: All Night Long – Birmingham Symphony Hall – 24 March 2017

So, an evening with Strictly Come Dancing’s, Brendan Cole. We had a spectacular opening of a Samba to the song which titled the show – All Night Long. Then followed the Cha Cha with Love Potion Number 9. I was initially worried that being on a stage and not a dance floor, someone might fall off, which then promptly happened when Mr Cole slid at the end of a number and ended in the lap of a woman in the front row. Mind you, I don’t think she minded.

And it wasn’t just Brendan Cole. He was superbly supported by five dancers who went it alone in such routines like I Can’t Stand the Rain, of which the ladies costumes were, ahem, interesting. Certainly had the few men in the audience captivated.

And that’s another thing. About 90% of the audience were women, and of the males I could see, all were older than me. Now, being the youngest man at a gig isn’t something which happens to me a lot these days, but I didn’t feel left out. A Rumba (Fields of Gold), Quickstep (Nine to Five) and Jive (Tell Her About It). All captivated as did the spectacular Argentine Tango to Skyfall.

In between some routines were non-dance songs from singers and the band, the singers being, Iain Mackenzie and Julie Maguire. Musical arrangements were overseen by pianist, Barry Robinson. The cast of dancers for the tour were: Faye Huddleston, Crystal Main, Matt Harris, Craig Jones, Victoria Burke, Sallyrose Beardall and Michael Johnson.

But it wasn’t all about dancing. On the night, we heard tales of the Strictly show with many of the anecdotes referring to politician, Ed Balls, the surprise novelty hit of the previous series. Also, expected quips about fellow dancer and friend of Cole, Anton Du Beke.

So how did the show satisfy an ignoramus? Well, I loved it, and apart from worrying about the women’s dresses igniting during the Paso Doble, my entertainment lasted all night long.

Brendan Cole: All Night Long – Birmingham Symphony Hall – 24 March 2017



Forget your X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, there’s only one place to get good song and dance and it’s at Brownhills Community School when Aldridge Musical Comedy Society arrive with Dick Whittington and the Return of the Rat.

Following the award winning Dick Whittington in 2010 and last year’s, The Pirate King, Return of the Rat is a brand new, stand-alone pantomime from AMCS full of excellent numbers performed by a fantastic cast.

Songs include: I’m a Believer, One Night in Bangkok, Radio Ga Ga, Holding Out for a Hero and One Day More. I was fortunate to view a rehearsal and was also blown away by another number. I’d like to maintain the element of surprise, but have to admit, this routine is a real Thriller.

When Dick and the crew rescue their old friend, Captain Jack Starling, they enrage the evil water witch, Callista. Intent on revenge, she mounts an assault on London, resurrecting a terrifying enemy, long thought dead. Audience, People of London, Women of the Amazon and Swashbuckling Pirates from the Caribbean, all should beware. King Rat – is back.

Dick Whittington and the Return of the Rat is at Brownhills Community School, Deakin Avenue, Brownhills. WS8 7QG from Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 November at 7.30pm, with additional Saturday Matinee (2.30pm).

Tickets are £10/adult, £8/concessions and £5 for children under 16.

Call 01543 480626 to book or go to the AMCS website www.aldridgemcs.co.uk. Barring that, email me via this site or Twitter and I’ll get somebody to call you.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society - Dick Whittington and the Return of the Rat



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