Last week, we headed down to London’s famous Café de Paris, for the press launch of Strictly Ballroom, the stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann‘s 1992 cult classic, coming to the Piccadilly Theatre on 29th March 2018.
Café de Paris was the perfect venue to host the event, with its sparkling chandeliers and red velvet curtains, it felt like walking onto the set of Moulin Rouge! (another Baz Luhrmann film getting the stage musical treatment this year)
Will Young was our affable host for the evening, returning to the musical stage after receiving rave reviews for his interpretation of the Emcee in the latest tour of Cabaret. He started off by leading the cast in a rousing rendition of the Cyndi Lauper classic ‘Time After Time’, while Scott (Jonny Labey) and Fran (Zizi Strallen) showed of their dancing skills with some dazzling partnerwork.
The show’s producer Carmen Pavlovic set up the production company Global Creatures 10 years ago, after seeing Australian theatres being filled with imports of West End and Broadway shows. She wanted to set up a company that “creates stories and develops productions with universal appeal that we could develop in Australia and then take to the world”.
Flamenco dancer, Fernando Mira, reprising the role of Rico from the original production, gave us a sneak peek of his fiery Paso Doble, before introducing Catherine Martin to the stage. The four-time Oscar winner was production designer and costume designer on the original Strictly Ballroom film, and is back designing the glitzy costumes for the West End adaptation. Martin’s husband and collabarator Luhrmann originally envisioned Strictly Ballroom for the stage, producing it in his second year at university, as well as taking it to a youth drama festival in Brataslava, where it received critical acclaim and a Best Play award, long before Hollywood came calling. Martin is thrilled to have the opportunity to see a young cast “taking the spirit that is to be able to dance your own steps, to not live your life in fear, and to rebel and triumph in the spirit of inclusion and love”.
Director and Choreographer Drew McOnie is on a roll. After winning the 2016 Olivier Award for In The Heights and being nominated for the same award for 2017’s Jesus Christ Superstar, he is set to make his West End directorial and choreographic debut with Strictly Ballroom, while doing the same on Broadway with King Kong. He speaks of his personal connection to the story, with his first viewing of the 1992 movie being the igniting moment that led him to discover he wanted to be a director and choreographer. After spending years making up his own steps, after seeing the rebellious nature of the main character Scott, he realised one day thathe too could “be able to tell my own steps, my own story, and to bring those stories to the stage”.
Fittingly for this Valentine’s Day event, the preview finished off with a romantic rumba and a rousing rendition of John Paul Young‘s ‘Love is in the Air’, an iconic song featured in the film’s soundtrack, with the entire cast swirling around the room in their dazzling ballgowns, showing off just how many sequins have been used in this glamorous West End adaptation.
Strictly Ballroom: the Musical is the uplifting story that inspired the world to dance. When maverick championship ballroom dancer Scott defies all the rules of competition to follow his heart, he teams up with left-footed partner Fran to win the Pan Pacifics his way. The musical features the film’s classic break-into-song numbers such as Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time alongside electrifying new songs.
Performances begin 29th March 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre. Click here to book tickets
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