For those of us obsessed with all things Strictly, this is a definite night out to get in the diary. STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL is definitely not based on the TV series but very much on the fantastic Baz Luhrmann directed movie. If you haven’t seen the film then make sure you catch it, and the stage show too, they’re both really good.
There is a perfect link with the TV Show however, the musical is starring Strictly Come Dancing’s KEVIN CLIFTON alongside Eastenders, and Strictly favourite MAISIE SMITH. And if that wasn’t enough of our favourite Saturday evening show, the tour has direction from dancer, choreographer, theatre director and our favourite TV Judge, CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD.
Incidentally, Craig will be here performing in his own right later this year in the musical ANNIE.
First of all, the original film – TRAILER.
The movie, unbelievably, came out 27 years ago and was directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It was actually his directorial début, and the first of what he called his The Red Curtain Trilogy. You’ll certainly know the other two. It was followed by Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (Homeland), and Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, which incidentally is also making its way onto the stage.
The movie started life as a play, which received critical acclaim in 1984. Baz staged it while he was studying at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney. A longer version became a success at the Czechoslovakian Youth Drama Festival in Bratislava in 1986, and, in 1988, it made a successful season at Sydney’s Wharf Theatre, where it was seen by Australian music executive Ted Albert and his wife Antoinette. They both loved it, and offered Baz the chance to transform his play into a film. He agreed on the condition that he would also get to direct it. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Baz has gone on to make some groundbreaking movies, such as the epic Australia and The Great Gatsby. And for no other reason than we were listening to it the other day, he did have himself a number one hit. It was the most unusual song to make the charts. Having said that, you can’t stop listening to it. (We’ve added the entire essay at the bottom of this page).
It was actually written by Chicago Tribute journalist Mary Schmich in just four hours after a walk around a lake when she saw a woman sunbathing and wondered if she was wearing sunscreen.
So now you know the background, let’s come onto the tour of STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL. Bringing together a cast of over 20 world class performers, it follows arrogant, rebellious young ballroom dancer, Scott Hastings. When his radical and daring dance style see him fall out of favour with Australian Federation, he must dance with beginner, Fran. Together they find the courage to defy tradition and discover that to win, your steps don’t need to be Strictly Ballroom!
Featuring break-into-song numbers such as Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time, as well as several new songs by internationally acclaimed artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect. This spectacle is sure to make for an unforgettable evening under the glitter ball that will send your heart soaring and toes tapping.
Here is the moment in the movie when the John Paul Young song fills the dance floor. Spoiler alert – DON’T watch it until you’ve seen the entire movie. The curtain thing used in the film, is a bit of a Baz Luhrmann trademark – HERE
Back to the stage show and there really couldn’t be anyone better to take on the starring role than KEVIN CLIFTON. He was pretty much born with his dancing shoes on, which was inevitable really as his parents, Keith and Judy were former World Champions. Come on, isn’t this just the cutest family picture?
Kevin began competing nationally and internationally as a child, initially partnering his sister Joanne. Later, when they both chose to move on to different partners he chose Latin as his primary dance style so as not to directly compete against his sister. We get that Kevin, never take on the might of your sister.
He was a Youth World Number 1 and four time British Latin Champion and won International Open titles in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Japan, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Belgium. Kevin must have the most amazing passport. By the time he retired from competitive dancing in 2007, he was ranked 7th in the world.
So when he arrived on our screens with Strictly Come Dancing, he was more than accustomed to lifting the champions trophy, which incidentally, is precisely what he did on the 16th season with his partner STACEY DOOLEY.
Kevin is certainly no stranger to theatre. In 2010, he made his musical theatre debut in Dirty Dancing The Musical in London’s West End. He was a principal dancer of the Burn The Floor Dance Company, performing in the show’s record breaking Broadway run as well as starring at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London. He also performed with the show in Japan, Australia, South Africa and the United States, as well as making guest appearances on Dancing with the Stars in the United States and So You Think You Can Dance in the Netherlands.
Joining Kevin on the cast is EastEnders actress and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant MAISIE SMITH who will play Fran up to the 25th March, so we do get to see her in Cardiff.
Maisie has won both ‘Best Dramatic performance from a Young Actress’ at the British Soap Awards, along with ‘Best Young Actor’ from the Inside Soap Awards. . She also took part in the Children in Need: Strictly Come Dancing Special and went on to win alongside Kevin.
STRICTLY BALLROOM – THE MUSICAL had a really successful run in London a couple of years ago, starring Will Young and later Matt Cardle. Here is Will on the One Show, with the cast, to give you a flavour of the musical. That guy on the left, blowing a kiss, is Baz Luhrmann. ONE SHOW.
Undoubtedly the tour will be fab-u-lous, especially as it will be directed by dancer, choreographer and TV judge; CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD who announced the tour in typical Craig fashion – HERE.
Appropriately enough for this show, Craig is Australian/British and of course has been doing the dancing thing for a good while now, and actually is no stranger to our theatres in South Wales. He’s not only a dancer, choreographer, conductor, singer, author and theatre director, but is undoubtedly our best known Strictly judge.
We sometimes wonder how he manages to squeeze it all in to be honest. He is regularly out on the road with a variety of productions, including ANNIE where he played Miss Hannigan. If you’d like to see what he’s up to just go to his site HERE.
STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL gets to the Wales Millennium Centre from the 23rd to 28th of this month. Tickets start at £18.50 and you can get them here. STRICTLY
We have heard that Kevin will not play the Monday and Tuesday performances in Cardiff.
We did promise you the SUNSCREEN ESSAY, here it is…..
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97
If I could offer you only one tip for the future
Sunscreen would be it
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
Whereas the rest of my advice
Has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience
I will dispense this advice now
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth
Oh, never mind
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself
And recall in a way you can’t grasp now
How much possibility lay before you
And how fabulous you really looked
You are not as fat as you imagine
Don’t worry about the future
But know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing everyday that scares you
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours
Don’t waste your time on jealousy
Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
The race is long
And in the end, it’s only with yourself
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters
Throw away your old bank statements
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to your knees
You’ll miss them when they’re gone
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40
Maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s
Enjoy your body
Use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own
Even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly
Get to know your parents
You never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings
They are the best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go
But for the precious few you should hold on
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
Because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young
Live in New York City once
But leave before it makes you hard
Live in Northern California once
But leave before it makes you soft
Accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise
Politicians will philander
You too will get old
And when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Prices were reasonable
Politicians were noble
And children respected their elders
Respect your elders
Don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund
Maybe you have a wealthy spouse
But you never know when either one might run outDon’t mess too much with your hair
Or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85
Be careful whose advice you buy
But be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia
Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
Painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen.