On the most romantic day of the year, what could be better than grabbing a glass of fizz and attending the press launch of Strictly Ballroom at the Café de Paris. Quite a crowd had gathered, including everyone who was anyone in musical theatre reporting – plus me – and there was a real air of excitement as we got nearer to the start of proceedings.
Will Young, who plays Wally Strand in the show, kicked off the event with a wonderfully soulful rendition of ‘Time After Time’ with the two lead actors Jonny Labey, who plays Scott Hastings and Zizi Strallen, playing Fran dancing along. Will then gave an opening address which was rather sweet and self-deprecating as he talked about his feelings for the show. He then introduced producer Carmen Pavlovic who talked about the ethos behind her company and other productions they have put on, including a brand new version of Moulin Rouge going to America.
Strictly Ballroom, which is based on the original and much-loved 1992 Baz Luhrmann movie of the same name, opens in April in the West End at the Piccadilly Theatre and the company has worked closely with Baz and the original film team. Director & Choreographer Drew McOnie talked about how the show has been updated for a UK audience from its Australian version with the introduction of Will Young’s character, bandleader Wally Strand. However, he said ultimately, the show stays true to the original themes of the movies – being who you are and standing up for yourself – which are as relevant today as when it first came out.
At the launch, many of the cast were dressed in their fantastic costumes by Catherine Martin with wonderfully sequined gowns and elaborate hairstyles reflected in every surface. The show looks amazing, sounds amazing and, a particular highlight for me was witnessing Fernando Mira – who originated the role of Fran’s father, Rico – perform a truly superb pasodoble. Proceedings were nearly at an end and the launch finished with Will Young back at the microphone singing ‘Love is in the Air’ accompanied by the other members of the cast to rapturous applause from the assembled audience. Personally, I think Strictly Ballroom is going to be the most anticipated musical of the year and, based on what I have seen today, I can’t wait to get my hands on a ticket.
By Terry Eastham
STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL tells the inspiring story of Scott Hastings, a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules and follows his heart, not only to find his true calling but also his true love.
Directed and choreographed by Olivier Award winner Drew McOnie and featuring songs from the hit film including Love Is In The Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time, this dazzling new musical is the perfect show for all the family.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical
16 Denman Street, London, W1D 7DY
Booking from 29th March 2018
Currently Booking to 21st July 2018