Strictly Come Dancing finalist and much-loved former EastEnders star, Maisie Smith, makes her musical theatre debut as she co-stars in the 2022/23 UK tour of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical in the lead female role of Fran, alongside her former Strictly dance partner, Kevin Clifton, who she waltzed her way to victory with in the Strictly Come Dancing 2019 Children In Need Special.
Strictly Ballroom plays the Liverpool Empire from Monday 17th to Saturday 22nd October. The musical, based on the award-winning global film phenomenon of the same name, inspired the world to dance and spawned the smash hit TV series Strictly Come Dancing. And now, new for 2022/23, this all-singing, all-dancing and all-glittering show–directed and co-choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood-is set to dazzle audiences once more with this glittering cast.
When the invitation to come and review Strictly Ballroom the Musical arrived I leapt at the chance. Every Saturday night we settle down with the three girls to watch Strictly Come Dancing and have done for years. The girls love it. So with the 12 year old in toe I arrived at the Liverpool Empire, excited to watch Kevin Clifton do some ballroom.
Strictly Ballroom was created by Australian director Baz Luhrmann. The premise of this story is about a man, Scott Hastings who tries to make his “own” way through the world of ballroom dancing by concocting his own steps – however, there are restrictions from his Mother and “teacher” but he soon succeeds to earn the acceptance of his mother and finds true love.
The show didn’t set off to a good start. Technical problems meant the show started around 20 minutes late which combined with a no show from Kevin Clifton which wasn’t explained meant the audience was confused and a tad disappointed from the very beginning. You could hear the muttering as Edwin Ray (the understudy) arrived on stage playing the role everyone assumed should be Kevin, as many had missed the sign on the door on the way in announcing the role change.
Technical problems continued at the interval with this lengthening to half an hour. Disappointing when the show had started late.
The opening number with bright dresses and lively music made my 12 year old turn to me in excitement and I thought all would be well.
It was well, but it wasn’t wonderful, and I’ll try and explain why.
I think that as an audience we didn’t really ‘get’ the Australian humour. There was a bed scene that was unnecessary and a few jokes that didn’t really add anything to the show other than smut. There was a few audience laughs at those jokes but otherwise they felt like a tumbleweed that didn’t really hit the mark.
The chemistry between Edwin Ray and Maisie Smith didn’t quite cut it either. Plus neither did their dance scenes. I think sadly the BBC spectacle of Strictly Come Dancing which combines dancing, with a huge budget and incredible graphics has spoilt ballroom for most of us. It just isn’t quite the same.
Not all the dance scenes failed to hit the mark though. The number with Scott (Edwin) and Fran (Maisie) just before the interval, when they find themselves in the middle of a family party and they learn the passion of the paso doble is superb. If only there had been more moments like that….
Maisie Smith created some fabulous moments when she was on stage alone. She has a lovely singing voice and I was surprised to love those scenes more than her dancing which I expected to be her forte.
Overall I had a lovely time at the theatre with my twelve year old and we enjoyed Strictly Ballroom the Musical, it just wasn’t one we fell in love with. I do wonder if the audience would have been lifted by Kevin Clifton, and whether this would in itself have changed the mood, but sadly that wasn’t the case for last night.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.