BWW Review: STRICTLY COME DANCING THE LIVE TOUR, Arena Birmingham
Presented by Stage Entertainment UK and Phil Mcintyre Entertainment, Strictly Come Dancing Live opened at the Arena Birmingham last night, kicking off its UK tour following another hugely successful TV series.
Seven celebrities from the 2019 season - along with a cast of professional dancers - perform popular routines from the series, accompanied by a live band and singers, and are critiqued by three out of the four regular judges: Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood. Their scores are only for guidance, as the audience vote for who they feel should lift the glitterball on that particular night.
The format of the show, including the majority of the set, is the same as in previous years, so one could wonder whether there's a way that it could be refreshed. Purely due to the fact that the TV series is so popular, and I'd imagine it gets plenty of repeat bookers. However, for someone watching for the first time, it can't be faulted.
Strictly Come Dancing 2018 winner Stacey Dooley is the host for the evening and is extremely popular amongst the crowd. She has a nice camaraderie with the dancers and whilst it doesn't feel entirely natural the whole time, she does a great job in moving the show along. The judges are full of witty comments and innuendos as you would expect, and it's great to see them perform later on during the programme... albeit perhaps not Bruno's singing!
As I mentioned last year as well, the focus of the entire production seems to be directional towards the rear of the auditorium, so I do feel that those seated on the sides are at a disadvantage at times. The choreography, however, uses the huge dance floor well, and the incorporation of additional professional dancers during the couple's numbers are welcome visually as it is such a big space to fill.
This year's celebrities are reigning champion Kelvin Fletcher, Saffron Barker, Emma Barton, Mike Bushell, Alex Scott, Catherine Tyldesley and Karim Zeroual. All perform two of their favourite dances from the series, many of which are crowd-pleasers - notably Kelvin's iconic samba with his new partner on the tour, Janette Manrara, who has stepped up as Oti Mabuse is currently involved with BBC's The Greatest Dancer.
Personally, I think the group routines are where the production truly excels. Their Game of Thrones-esque number to a superb arrangement of Britney Spears' "Toxic" is dark and moody yet sultry and passionate. Professional dancers Dianne Buswell and Graziano Di Prima lead this sensational number. Also, the La La Land medley at the end of the first half is completely stunning and involves the whole cast.
There is plenty to enjoy in this show, and if you're a Strictly fan, it's a must-see.
Credit: Dave Hogan/Getty Images