A Night to Remember @ The New Wimbledon Theatre Review

Having charmed the nation for well over a decade now, Strictly Come Dancing  has without shadow of a doubt rejuvenated an otherwise preserved art form, inspiring a legion of fans to put on their dancing shoes and take up Ballroom or Latin. Millions tune into the BBC hit show at the end of the year, intrigued as to which celebrities have signed themselves up for 3 months worth of gruelling rehearsals, rip roaring performances and sparkles. Well known faces take on the dancing challenge, but what’s been great about the format is that it has produced its very own roster of stars, with Brendan Cole being one of the show’s most memorable characters.

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Winning the first ever Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 with news anchor Natasha Kaplinsky, Cole has always been a force to be reckoned with both on the dance floor and off, most noted for his heated exchanges with the iconic judging panel. A dancer and choreographer sure to add his cheeky yet fiery demeanour to the dance floor, Cole leads a cast of 8 dancers to bring avid Strictly fans a jam packed evening of Strictly favourites and newly created crowd pleasers. I commend Cole for championing the new dancing voices of tomorrow, with his youngest cast member being aged 18, and many in their early 20s. Cole marries a cast of both emerging and established talent and that is something to be celebrated.

Strictly fans will not be left disappointed as the evening is peppered with Ballroom and Latin dance sequences. The evening witnesses Cole lead a range of routines, but also allows for the ensemble to shine. Cole’s brilliant Charleston, performed with Sophie Ellis-Bexter in series 11 witnesses the ensemble liven up the stage with dynamic footwork, beautiful partner work and a whole lot of charisma.  A contemporary piece performed by young rising talent Hanna Cresswell showcases the star that she really is. Giulia Dotta, Cole’s dancing partner on the evening truly dazzles, stealing the show in the considered, heartfelt and beautifully placed Rhumba danced to Whitney Houston’s ‘Run to You‘.

A magical Viennese Waltz lead by Ksenia Zsikhotska, danced to a track named ‘Cinderella‘ is one of the evening’s stand out performances. The ensemble beautifully glide around the stage, performing the iconic spins prevalent in a waltz with such an ease, it’s as if the stage is accompanied by inhabitants of a fairy kingdom. In between performances, Cole takes a breather, and uses the opportunity to speak to the audience, his fans. This convention leaves me wondering whether it will grow tedious, however it doesn’t. Cole’s effortless charm, his humour, his willingness to take questions from the crown in a Q & A make him approachable, and a true showman.

A staple of Strictly’s format is the live band which provides the soundtrack for the evening. This component makes A Night to Remember a fun evening to be apart of, and that’s with special thanks to Barry Robinson, the Musical Director and Pianist for the evening, and Iain Mackenzie and Julie Maguire who make for a fantastic duo, belting out hits such as ‘Uptown Funk‘ and ‘We’ve Got Tonight‘. The band truly uplift the evening, an additional presence giving life to all performers on stage. 3.5/5

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Review written by Lucy Basaba.

A Night to Remember was shown at the New Wimbledon Theatre on Saturday 13th February, and is currently on a UK tour. For moe information on the production, visit here…

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