Review Roundup: Baz Luhrmann's STRICTLY BALLROOM- All the Reviews!
Baz Luhrmann's exciting, action packed STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL, presented by Global Creatures, is the inspiring story of a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart. This uplifting and courageous tale will opened Saturday, April 12 at Sydney's Lyric Theatre, Star City.
Newcomers Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos play the roles of 'Scott Hastings' and 'Fran'. Their excitement at being chosen from an audition process that lasted eight months and involved close to 600 auditionees is palpable. Lacey and Panaretos are joined by principal performers Heather Mitchell, Drew Forsythe, Mark Owen-Taylor, Robert Grubb, Bob Baines, Fernando Mira, Natalie Gamsu, along with the entire multi-talented 'triple threat' cast.
This brand new theatrical production is being brought to the stage by the original creative team behind the classic 1992 film, including director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann, set and costume designer Catherine Martin, choreographer John "Cha Cha" O'Connell, and co-writer Craig Pearce.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Emma Cambey, BroadwayWorld: "Strictly Ballroom the Musical is a fun night out with quality acting, engaging music, spectacular choreography and entertaining audience participation. Audience participation has been tried by many shows of late and I've often felt it too forced and detrimental but Luhrmann has used it to great effect. I enjoyed the novelty of the different coloured seats in the theatre and being allocated a dance club to support. For this reason, I must include a special shout out to the ensemble performers representing Worrawee, in particular the very talented Cristina D'Agostino who like much of the ensemble was flawless in each of her routines. Overall, this show has all the signs it will be a success, particularly in the overseas market that can't get enough of all things Australia."
Megan Lehmann, The Hollywood Reporter: "All the eager-to-please busyness leads to an unruly opening act in which an excess of dancers and their attendant backstories clog the plot. Much of the sly humor found in the film's send-up of its self-serious milieu is swamped by screechy theatrics. Thankfully, Luhrmann, who directs and co-wrote the book withCraig Pearce, is smart enough to realize the simplicity at the story's heart: it's about love and dancing."
Chris Hook, The Daily Telegraph: "The play's the thing in the end. Or the story at least. And there's something about Strictly Ballroom that captures the heart, even when you know exactly how this tale is going to play out. And with all the magic that live musical theatre can create, Baz Luhrmann's new stage version of his 1992 film Strictly Ballroom packs way more sensory punch than the film ever could."
Alex Needham, The Guardian: "The show does manage a rousing climax set to Love is in the Air, and the choreography is great fun throughout, with the cast performing dances of every category - both strictly and non-strictly ballroom. This new version of Luhrmann's story does show that, as the script has it, "there's more than one way to cha cha cha" (a motto also emblazoned on an overpriced T-shirt at the merchandise stall), but it also demonstrates that some ways are more effective than others - and that, while the show has all the signs of a hit, Strictly Ballroom is still at its most potent in movie form."
Clive Paget, Limelight Magazine: "The show has ambitions. There's clearly a great deal of money sunk in this one and it must have Broadway firmly in its sights. In its current form, I can't help but think US critics, who are passionate about the musical and care about things like craft and form, would have it for breakfast. So, back to the drawing board perhaps? It's not all doom and gloom for Luhrmann - a great many people clearly enjoyed the experience - but there were also several near me who didn't stick around for the second half. As it stands Strictly Ballroom has something to offer for those who want a pleasant night out, but if you want an insightful piece of musical theatre, best look elsewhere... for now."
Deborah Jones, The Australian: "According to the script of both film and musical, downtrodden Doug Hastings, Scott's father and a closet dancesport renegade, finally asserts himself and supports his son's rebellion against the petty tyranny of the competitive ballroom dancing hierarchy. At Friday night's final preview the audience joined in after only two handclaps from Drew Forsythe's Doug; at Saturday's opening of Baz Luhrmann's crowd-pleasing but deeply uneven extravaganza they didn't even wait for that. Uncued, except by their familiarity with the film, 2000 people put their hands together. Thunderously. Audience and show had became one."
Jessica Grewal, The Chronical: "A LESS than tasteful dance movie turned into a musical was never going to be considered classy but the fun and over-the top glitz of Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, drew the who's who of the entertainment industry to Sydney's Lyric Theatre on Saturday. Dressed in their sparkling best, actors from the original movie mixed with the stars of today at the global premier of the musical, which takes audiences back to the early '90s ballroom circuit. From the moment the curtains opened, Catherine Martin's sequin encrusted costumes were the star of the show."
Ron Lee, CSP: "Baz Luhrmann, renowned for his amazing films, has actually been involved in more theatrical productions than movies. Strictly Ballroom, which Luhrmann wrote with Craig Pearce, was first produced at NIDA in 1984. I suspect that the NIDA production budget was a very, very small fraction of this latest version now showing at Star City's newly revamped Lyric Theatre. Nothing has been held back, and I hate to think what the budget was for this - the singers, the dancers, the orchestra, the lavish sets, the incredible costumes, THE SEQUINS! Really, the sequin cost for this show would equate to the GDP of a small country."
Cassie Tongue, Aussie Theatre: "For a piece that started as a devised stage work at NIDA before it ever became a cult film classic,Strictly Ballroom sure has had a very hard time divorcing itself from the cinematic. It attempts to draw the eye, camera-like, through windows and around corners, and effectively creates a losing battle for dominant perspective and sense of space. This too lessens the effect of the choreography, so critical in a show about dance and dance style - too often the show's movement isn't given the chance to breathe and be seen. Baz Luhrmann, director of this journey, has made our viewing experience a battle, and his book - co-written with Craig Pearce - doesn't make the battle an easier one to fight."