Baz Luhrman’s original vision for Strictly Ballroom was a student musical presenting a primary myth in the context of ballroom dancing. Later, the concept evolved into a hit film (released 1991) and went on to influence the programme that we refer to simply as “Strictly”.
The present incarnation, in its UK premier at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, is bold, brash and tremendous fun.
All the elements we remember from the film are there: the rebellious young man who wants to innovate; the bullying administrators; the over-bearing mother and ineffectual father; the heroine who grows in confidence. What’s not to like? The engaging Sam Lips plays Scott Hastings as he struggles with his own emotions while trying to rescue the family dance school from the threat of closure.
Gemma Sutton grows throughout the show as Fran (just Fran) revealing a family talent for the passo doble (wonderfully danced by Fernando Mira as Rico). Eventually she saves Scott from himself in the final, redemptive scene. The show is replete with great songs and dance routines that could melt the rivets out of the lighting rig.
The set is flexible, and I bet you have never witnessed scene changers pirouette as they move a flat. Costumes are all you would expect of a show set around a dance competition.
Strictly Ballroom runs at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, until Saturday January 21.
Tickets: 0113 213 7700.