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Apr 4th, 2018
Taking a cue from the films' deliciously high camp tone, this is Panto meets Priscilla Queen of the Desert, with some fantastic dancing talent thrown in for good measure.
For those that haven't treated themselves to the film, Strictly Ballroom is the story of Open Amateur competitor Scott Hastings, the last hope of his hysterical dance teacher mother Shirley and wallflower father Doug. Shirley just wants him to raise the Hastings name from the gutter to the stars and win the Championship, but Scott, the young gadabout, keeps losing points for dancing his own non-federation steps. Much to his mother's increasingly more hilarious nerves and invoking the ire of petty politics of 'strictly ballroom', as ruled over by past Open Amateur winner Barry Fife. Enter Fran, the Beginner, whose Spanish upbringing helps to fan the flames of Scott's rebellion to a frenzy. Add double-crosses, long-held family secrets, the most glittery costumes this side of 42nd Street, and a sweet love story and you've got yourself an infectiously fun night out at the theatre.
Not actually a musical on its release, Luhrmann and co (David Caddick and Ben Atkinson) have retroactively 'Moulin Roug-ed' the story. Nothing seems out of place and to have added full-scale sing-a-longs might have been somewhat too much for an already bursting story.
Alongside my friend, a gruff straight white man but admitted fan of the original movie, I expected some stony silence, but as he enthused about his first musical experience afterwards, (the choreography 'spot on', the leads' chemistry 'incredible'), declaring it 'pretty much hilarious' my little lovie heart sung. This bonkers yet universally appealing romp proves that a beginner does have the right to approach an open amateur after all.
View our show pages for more information about Strictly Ballroom, Sunderland Empire.
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