Strictly Ballroom the Musical UK Tour
Strictly Ballroom the Musical is based on the 1992 film written and directed by Baz Luhrmann, who went on to create Moulin Rouge.
I saw the original production in 2016 when it was directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie. Although it had previously been produced in Sydney and Melbourne.
After it’s run in Leeds, starring Sam Lips and Gemma Sutton, the book was changed and all the songs were removed replacing them with more well known songs.
The new version was taken to Toronto the following year before transferring to the West End in 2018. It then starred Eastender’s Jonny Labey, and Mary Poppin’s Zizi Strallen. With Will Young before Matt Cardle took over.
This new production is now directed by Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, with an all new cast led by Kevin Clifton and Maisie Smith who both previously appeared on the BBC dance contest.
Maisie Smith was six years old, when she started out in Eastenders, appearing in and out of the series ever since.
In 2020 she took part in Strictly Come Dancing reaching the final.
Now, twenty-one years old, this is Maisie's stage debut in musical theatre.
Kevin Clifton started as one of the professionals on Strictly Come Dancing making it to five of the finals between 2013 and 2020, and winning in 2018 with his now pregnant girlfriend Stacey Dooley.
Kevin and Maisie were paired together and won the show’s Children in Need special in 2019.
Having started ballroom dancing at a young age with his sister Joanne Clifton, who also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, both have since transcended to musical theatre. She has appeared in Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Rocky Horror Show and The Addams Family.
Although technically Kevin actually started out in musical theatre before Strictly Come Dancing, appearing in Dirty Dancing in the West End in 2010.
In 2018 he played Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages and appeared in The War of the Worlds earlier in 2022.
In the 2018 West End version, The character of Willy Strand was created as an MC who resides over the show, and sang most of the songs. It served more as a juke box musical, removing all the original songs, and replacing them with rearrangements of contemporary songs ranging from Let’s Dance by David Bowie, to Marvin Gaye’s Dancing in the Street.
As enjoyable as it was, I remember it feeling more like a Will Young concert, whilst Jonny Labey, and Zizi Strallen were rendered his backing dancers.
This new version of Strictly Ballroom the Musical reverts back to its earliest version, retaining the smash-hit songs from the movie that include Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time, but reinstalling the original music written by artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.
This gives it more of a feel of an original musical and allows for its stars to sing and dance, which both Kevin Clifton and Maisie Smith handle brilliantly. Their experience in ball room elevates their performances making them feel authentic and genuine.
The restructure also aligns this version of Strictly Ballroom the Musical more in keeping with the original movie, which was written and shot to resemble a documentary. The “mockumentary" format featuring interviews with various characters, allows this ensemble cast to each show case their talents.
The characters are well conceived and portrayed and the dance sequences are stunning.
From what I remember from the West End’s set, it was very structural, made up of scaffolding towers, the new set looks to resemble floor boards that curve up to encompass the action, whilst scenery slides out from customised moving planks.
Both productions incorporate the famous Coca-Cola advertisement board, prominent in the film.
Both versions of Strictly Ballroom the Musical have their place and are equally enjoyable, but I am glad that they have repackaged this original version for a road trip, giving it a second lease of life, for anyone who didn’t originally see it in Leeds.
Meanwhile for those missing the roller-skating Will Young he can be seen touring the UK and coming to London’s Palladium in his 20 Years Tour.
Strictly Ballroom the Musical continues to tour:
New Wimbledon Theatre 7-12 November
Darlington Hippodrome 14-19 November
Blackpool Opera House 21-26 November
Peterborough New Theatre 28 November-3 December
Sheffield City Hall 8-13 December
Guildford G Live 20-31 December
Ipswich Regent 9-14 January 2023
Reading The Hexagon 16-21 January
Wales Millennium Centre 23-28 January
Plymouth Theatre Royal 30 January-4 February
Truro Hall for Cornwall 6-11 February
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre 13-18 February
Southampton Mayflower 20-25 February
Northampton Royal & Derngate 27 February-4 March
Hull New Theatre 6-11 March
Canterbury Marlowe 13-18 March
Southend Cliffs 20-25 March
Bradford Alhambra Theatre 27 March-1 April
Milton Keynes Theatre 3-8 April
Norwich Theatre Royal 10-15 April
Bournemouth Pavilion 17-22 April
York Grand Opera House 24-29 April
Newcastle Theatre Royal 1-6 May
Edinburgh Playhouse 8-13 May
Aberdeen Performing Arts 15-20 May
Derry Millenium Forum Theatre 22-27 May
Glasgow Theatre Royal 5-10 June
Ayelsbury Waterside 12-17 June
Nottingham Theatre Royal 19-24 June
Salford Lowry 26 June - 1 July
Leeds Grand 3 - 8 July
Bristol Hippodrome 10-15 July
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