I still am one of the small number of people out here that have never watched “Strictly Come Dancing” on television, but modern media being what it is, that never stops you being at least aware of it, or the stars that the show has brought to wide public attention. Sometimes stars though, seem to be taken right into the hearts of the public, and world champion Latin dancers Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace are two such people.
I saw them both in their last production “Dance Till Dawn” and liked the show a lot, so I was looking forward to this new production “The Last Tango”, and it did not disappoint.
The show directed by Karen Bruce (also co-choreographer with Vincent and Flavia) is obviously designed to highlight the dancing skills of Vincent and Flavia, but it is much more than that. There is a real story here told in dance, song and music just as well as any ballet would do, but with a different dance style. There is also a talented song and dance cast and some great music.
The story is told in reminiscence format with Teddy Kempner as George looking back on his life as we watch Vincent and Flavia dance the memories out before us starting in what appears to be late 1930s/early 1940s Britain. Great attention here to the clothing, styling and accessories of everyone as we move through the 1940s and 1950s plus some great solo vocals by Matthew Gent.
The dancing by Vincent and Flavia of course is superb and highlights just why they won world championships as they both move effortlessly across the stage to a variety of dance styles. Together they bring back on stage some of that lost glamour of those great Hollywood musicals. As he did last time, Vincent reminds me a little bit of Gene Kelly in the way that he moves, and Flavia could easily be his Cyd Charisse as she almost weightlessly moves over the dance floor.
This show is far more than just a showcase for the talents of our two stars, and is better as a stage production to me than some far bigger name shows I have seen. The reminiscence format is also so well handled and performed by Teddy Kempner that there is at times a bitter-sweet element to this story.
A lot of highlights to this show, including a great cast rendition of one of my favourite songs from the war time period – “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”. I have watched so many people over the years get this song wrong and do it badly as, if you do not get the timing and tempo right in the first few bars, you never recover from that...this time they got it absolutely right. The big highlight of course and what so many in the audience were obviously waiting for was the Latin dances of Vincent and Flavia.
If you get a chance to see this show while it is still at The Playhouse (on Friday and Saturday too) try and catch it, it is a very good show suitable for the whole family. Vincent and Flavia are also clever enough to stick to what they are very, very good at and what the audience want to see them both doing – dancing, leaving a talented cast of dancers and singers to do the rest.
Review by Tom King