Strictly Ballroom – The Musical

Piccadilly Theatre, London

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Strictly Ballroom The Musical now playing at London’s Piccadilly Theatre.

Olivier Award winner Drew McOnie directs and choreographs the West End premiere of Strictly Ballroom The Musical.

Experience the feel-good story that inspired the world to dance, Strictly Ballroom The Musical is a dazzling new musical comedy based on the Baz Luhrmann classic 1992 film.

Strictly Ballroom is booking until 27 October 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre London.

WHAT’S THE STORY?

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 National Championship his way.

Featuring break-into-song numbers from the classic 1992 film including Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time, as well as wonderful new songs from internationally acclaimed artists and composers such as Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.

WHO’S IN IT? STRICTLY BALLROOM CAST

Matt Cardle, Jonny Labey and Zizi Strallen will lead the cast alongside Anna Francolini, Gerard Horan, Michelle Bishop, Ivan De Freitas, Gabriela Garcia, Charlotte Gooch, Richard Grieve, Liam Marcellino, Stephen Matthews, Fernando Mira, Eve Polycarpou, Lauren Stroud & Gary Watson.

CREATIVE TEAM

Directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie (Jesus Christ Superstar, In The Heights, Bugsy Malone). The production is based on the original Australian musical created by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin. Terry Johnson joins the creative team to adapt the original book.

REVIEWS

★★★★ ‘the West End may have another successful morale-lifter on its hands’ Daily Mail

★★★★ ‘A joyously eccentric musical take on Baz Luhrmann’s fabulous dancing yarn.’ Time Out


Show Information

Performance dates
Booking to 27 October 2018

Important Notes


Important COVID entry requirements

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The government advises you to wear a face mask in crowded and enclosed spaces
Covid safety
This venue is complying with the latest industry 'See It Safely' guidelines.


Venue Information

Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London, W1D 7DY
Nearest Tube or Train: Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly line, Bakerloo line)
Nearest Buses: 3, 6, 9, 12, 13 ,14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 38, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453
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News about Strictly Ballroom
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Matt Cardle in Strictly Ballroom, London ">
X-Factor’s Matt Cardle joins Strictly Ballroom The Musical

Matt Cardle will join the cast of Strictly Ballroom The Musical later this month when he assumes the role of bandleader Wally Strand currently played by Will Young.

The 2010 X-Factor winner and best-selling recording artist made his West End debut in 2015 playing Huey Calhoun opposite Beverley Knight in Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Cardle said “I’m so excited to be returning to the West End. It’s so rare that a role comes around that you can put so much of your own stamp on. I have seen the show and it’s absolutely incredible. To have the opportunity to sing all these huge songs every night is a real honour.”

The show features over 30 classic hits including Time After Time, Let’s Dance, I’m So Excited, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Sway (Quien Sera), Mambo No. 5, Dancing With Myself, Sugar Sugar, It’s the End of the World as We Know It, Teardrops, and Love is in the Air.

Based on Baz Luhrmann iconic film, Strictly Ballroom tells the story of a talented, yet arrogant, young ballroom dancer who defies tradition and dares to dance to his own steps. When he teams up with inexperienced dancer Fran, together they find the courage to defy tradition with moves that aren’t “strictly ballroom”…

Jonny Labey (EastEnders) and Zizi Strallen (Mary Poppins, Follies) continue in their lead roles as Scott and Fran, alongside Anna Francolini (Peter Pan, wonder.land) as Scott’s mother Shirley Hastings, Richard Grieve (Neighbours, Emmerdale and Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Les Kendall and Gerard Horan (The Ferryman, The Vote) as Barry Fife.

Matt Cardle joins the cast from 31 July 2018.

Buy tickets to Strictly Ballroom The Musical

Strictly Ballroom is booking until 20 October 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre, London

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Strictly Ballroom The Musical – Review Round-Up

A review round-up for Strictly Ballroom The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre, London.

Drew McOnie’s dazzling production of Baz Luhrmann’s film-to-stage musical has opened at London’s Piccadilly Theatre starring Jonny Labey, Zizi Strallen and pop-star Will Young.

With multi-coloured costumes, feathers galore, fake tans and McOnie’s glorious choreography, Strictly Ballroom The Musical has split the critics.

It appears for some there’s too much glitz and stero-type characters at the expense of a production that should ultimately be a love story with a side of comedy but for others it’s a great ‘pick me up’ light-hearted affair that gets you dancing in your seat.

The musical comedy follows the plot of the hit film, with Jonny Labey playing the maverick championship ballroom dancer Scott Hastings, who defies the rules of the game to team up with left-footed partner Fran (Zizi Strallen), follow his heart and win the championships.

Will Young – in a cat-suite and moustache – plays the decadent compere of the evening alongside a cast that includes Richard Grieve, Eve Polycarpou, Ivan De Freitas and Fernando Mira.

The production features break-into-song numbers from the classic 1992 film including Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time, as well as wonderful new songs from internationally acclaimed artists and composers such as Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.

Strictly Ballroom is directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie, with set design by Soutra Gilmore, costume by Catherine Martin, lighting by Howard Hudson, and sound by Gareth Owen.

 

 

Read a round-up of reviews below.

Daily Mail, ★★★★

“Sequins, feather dresses, atrocious toupees, whitened teeth, ‘Love Is In The Air’ and Will Young in a soup-strainer moustache plus bulging black PVC trousers: the musical version of 1992 romantic comedy film Strictly Ballroom has no shortage of stereotypes.

The staging is a bit of a mess and the plot’s conflict of artistic repression by 1980s Australian rednecks feels decidedly vieux tutu. Yet the whole thing is done with enough self-teasing and infectious japery that the West End may have another successful morale-lifter on its hands.”

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

The Guardian, ★★

“Will Young entertains in a sequined catsuit but this laborious version of the charming film is a step in the wrong direction.

It does, however, yield the moment of ecstasy I look for in a musical. That comes when Fran’s father teaches Scott the paso doble. Fernando Mira, with his poker back, drumming heels and economy of movement, gives us a masterclass in Spanish dance and, unwittingly, upends the show’s thesis by proving the value of disciplined tradition.

While Mira, aided by Eve Polycarpou as Fran’s gran, ushers us into another world, we are soon back in that of corrupt ballroom competitions. It is a sign of the show’s lazy liberalism that the dance federation’s tradition-worshipping president, played by Gerard Horan in an orange wig, declares: “Maybe I’ll go into politics.” Since Donald Trump has got where he is by breaking all the rules, the joke makes little sense and symbolises the production’s benign vulgarity.”

Michael Billington, The Guardian

 

 

Independent, ★★★

“This gleefully garish musical of Baz Luhrmann’s film is loads of fun. This overblown dance-led show sweeps you up with its sequins and silliness.

The second half feels less focused – largely due to some lame attempts at political resonance that feel simultaneously strenuous and lazy.

Still, it’s not a show too take too seriously, and there is much to enjoy. McOnie’s choreography is totally glorious, whether sending up the silliness of cheesy routines or firing up flamenco. And this is a dance-driven show: Young leads us through the story with songs, but the main characters aren’t lumbered with jukeboxing emotion – they signal feeling with their hips, not their lips.”

Holly Williams, The Independent

The Telegraph, ★★

“Will Young can’t save this vapid film spin-off.

Only those requiring minimal cerebral input will be enraptured by this bewilderingly vapid jukebox musical. It is so lacking in substance that it almost makes its predecessor at this theatre, Annie, look like the Ring Cycle by comparison. Where the film had novelty and cinematographic élan, the theatrical spin-off contents itself with an abundance of blindingly garish costumes and the gurning caricature of types pushy, inept and twangingly -accented. Our would-be rule-breaking hero Scott finds a gauche new partner Fran – courting the disapproval of those around them – to bid for championship victory; a romantic gesture reciprocated when she introduces him to her gruff Spanish father who winningly tutors him in the macho art of the paso doble.

The idea is that spontaneity wins out over the mechanical – yet despite the redeeming adorability of central pair Jonny Labey and Zizi Strallen – and much superb, slick, lithe choreography from Drew McOnie and the ensemble – it feels relentlessly manufactured and cynically feelgood. Think Romeo + Juliet minus heart and soul – but with fancier footwork.”

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

Evening Standard, ★★★

“Despite the meticulous replication, gone is the easy charm of the film, to be replaced by a slightly desperate air of forced jollity beneath the amply applied fake tan.

There’s an enervating sense of a thin storyline eked out too far, especially since the Scott/Fran pairing never has us fully aflame. The best news, by far, is Strallen, who exudes a lightness and brightness even when a mere face in the dance studio crowd early on. Her acting and dancing is impeccable; if she can sing as well as her older sisters, musical theatre actresses Scarlett and Summer, she has a very bright future on our stages.”

Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

 

The Stage, ★★

”‘Despite dazzling choreography, this musical adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s iconic film disappoints.

This new West End version is slack where it should be tight – crucially in its comedy – and slick where it should be loose. It does a disservice to both of the film’s great strengths. The characters know that they and their world are grotesque, they play lines for laughs, and so suck the humour out of them. In trying so hard to be funny, the show comes across as cold and calculating instead.

The trouble is the show doesn’t heed its own message: that ballroom dancing is about more than just slickness and flash. And we’ve seen this kind of story so many times before – from Billy Elliot to Footloose and Kinky Boots, even Cinderella – we need something more.”

Tim Bano, The Stage

The Times [paywall], ★★

“This musical reimagining of the film is cartoonish and a bit desperate.

When a smart producer added the first word of Baz Luhrmann’s breakthrough film Strictly Ballroom to an old format called Come Dancing, the resulting hybrid became one of the greatest television hits of the 21st century.

Can this musical reimagining of the 1992 Australian romantic comedy keep dancing — or singing, or sashaying, or goofing around — in quite the same world-beating way? I can’t see it.”

Dominic Maxwell, The Times

Metro, ★★★

“This stage version of Baz Luhrmann’s much-loved Aussie film doesn’t feel as unique as it did on screen. Will Young’s decadent compere has a whiff of Cabaret’s Emcee about him. And the moment when our hero, championship ballroom dancer Scott, played by former EastEnder Jonny Labey, discovers his wallflower dance partner Fran (Zizi Strallen) comes from a family of hot-blooded paso doble-dancing immigrants, it’s as if the cast had sashayed into West Side Story.

There is, though, much here that fans of Luhrmann’s 1992 movie will enjoy. Not least the way his story both lampoons and loves the kitsch world of ballroom dancing, where dancers grin to the point of gurning.

This is a show with a lot of heart. Although arriving from Australia via the West Yorkshire Playhouse, it feels small in the West End.

Young sings beautifully but is underemployed by the 1980s pop-medley score. Strallen is excellent as the blossoming Fran and the lantern-jawed, athletic Labey is also very good, if you enjoy dance as an Olympic sport.

For me, only Fernando Mira as Fran’s paso doble-dancing dad has the moves to justify the price of a ticket. But then I admit I’m probably not ballroom dancing’s greatest fan, strictly speaking.”

John Nathan, Metro

Time Out, ★★★★

“A joyously eccentric musical take on Baz Luhrmann’s fabulous dancing yarn.

There’s so much that’s weird about ‘Strictly Ballroom – The Musical’ that it’s hard to know where to start. First up, it’s not really a musical at all. There’s barely a new song in sight – instead, the score is an ingenious piecemeal of hits, from Whitney Houston to REM to Robyn. And it’s sung almost entirely by Will Young, dressed up as a sort of haunted retro compere (think Che in ‘Evita’) with a handlebar moustache, spandex and, at one point, rollerskates. Perhaps the rest of the cast can sing too, but they’ve got bigger fish to fry: acclaimed choreographer Drew McOnie’s production puts all the focus on tirelessly energetic, amped-up ballroom routines and shamelessly exaggerated physical comedy.

Will Young’s voice can do it all – ethereal Whitney Houston covers, matinee-idol macho – but even so, the show relies heavily on his singing to add depth to the whippet-fast, chihauhua-light plot. The night I saw it, he marked the curtain call by sinking to the floor in a puddle of camped-up exhaustion. Still, if ‘Strictly Ballroom’ is indeed a bit tiring, it’s got enough talent and relentless invention to make it exhilarating, too. It’s halfway between a tribute to and a very, very silly send-up of a much-loved movie, whose cava-swilling fans will leave the theatre with a skip, slide and hop in their step.”

Alice Saville, Time Out

 

Buy tickets to Strictly Ballroom The Musical

Strictly Ballroom The Musical is booking until 21 July 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre, London.

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Casting announced for Baz Lurhmann’s Strictly Ballroom

Gemma Sutton and American Sam Lips have been cast in the UK premiere of Strictly Ballroom.

Sutton is currently appearing in the West End production of The Go-Between with Michael Crawford and previously played both daughter roles in the award winning production of Gypsy with Imelda Staunton at the Savoy Theatre.

Lips makes his UK debut having played starring roles in the Broadway productions of Pippin and Wicked.

Joining Sutton and Lips will be Tamsin Carroll, Stephen Matthews, Julius D’Silva, Richard Grieve, Eve Polycarpou, Charlotte Gooch, Lauren Stroud, Jade Albertsen, Liam Marcellino, Gary Watson, Michelle Bishop, Richard Dempsey, and Zak Nemorin.

The cast is completed by Courtney-Mae Briggs, Javier Cid, Selina Hamilton, Luke Jackson, Rebecca Lisewiki, Lindsay McAllister, Freya Rowley, Javier Santo, Alexzandra Sarmiento and Dale White.

Based on Lurhmann’s 1992 film Strictly Ballroom, the UK production will be directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie. Audience’s who saw the recent Australian production two years ago will see a very different show as the book has received extensive re-writes, songs have been added and McOnie will have his own choreography.

Drew McOnie said: “I am incredibly excited about the dynamic and diverse company we have carefully put together to create Strictly Ballroom. Our international company is hugely talented and I can’t wait to introduce them to audiences.”

Strictly Ballroom will open at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 30 November 2016 and if successful will transfer into the West End.

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Drew McOnie to stage Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom.

Drew McOnie to stage Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

British choreographer Drew McOnie is to direct and choreograph a production of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom at the West Yorkshire Playhouse later this year.

McOnie initially met up with Luhrmann with idea of choreographing a British production but Luhrmann was so impressed he suggested he choreograph and direct. Luhrmann said of McOnie ‘There’s something about his energy that reminds me of when you’re at an early place in your career and you’ve got that killer enthusiasm.’

Luhrmann, who produced a big musical version of Strictly Ballroom 2 years ago in Australia said “One of the great joys for us was to take a story that began as a play when I was at drama school and return to our homeland in Australia to birth the musical stage version with all our original collaborators. Now that it’s been born, Strictly Ballroom must go on. It’s wonderful that one of the new bright-lights of the English theatre, who himself was fan of the film at a young age, is taking the show to realize it in a new way, for new audiences, and oversee its continued growth. “

McOnie said: “The film Strictly Ballroom has had such a huge impact on me. It inspired me as an 8- year-old dancer to follow my choreographic instinct and gave me the desire to explore the many different ways of communicating ideas through dance. The opportunity to bring that passion and personal connection to the next stage of Strictly Ballroom’s journey means the world to me; and having Baz Luhrmann’s support is a dream come true.”

McOnie, who choreographed the award- winning musical In The Heights in London is currently creating a brand new dance thriller production of Jekyll and Hyde, which will premiere at the Old Vic in May 2016. His other theatre credits include Bugsy Malone (Lyric Hammersmith), Oklahoma! (National Tour), The Sound of Music (Curve Theatre, Leicester), Hairspray (National Tour) In the Heights (Southwark Playhouse & Kings Cross Theatre), and Chicago (Curve Theatre, Leicester).

Strictly Ballroom previews at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, from 30 November 2016 and opens on 6 December 2016.

VIDEO: Strictly Ballroom The Musical Trailer

Strictly Ballroom eyeing West End run

Is Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom finally heading to the West End?

A scene from Strictly Ballroom The Musical
A scene from Strictly Ballroom The Musical

Following our shameless begging in April this year, Baz Luhrmann’s musical adaptation of his hit 1992 (I know, 1992!) movie Strictly Ballroom may be foxtrotting to the West End.

Baz in today’s Daily Mail adds fuel to the rumours, saying that Luhrman and his team are trying to find a London theatre for the show.

The sequinned show is set against the cut-throat (and camp) world of competitive ballroom dancing and the movie was a huge hit for Luhrmann.

The stage show of Strictly Ballroom launched in Sydney in March to mixed reviews but great audience reaction and box-office returns. A reworked show is promised for Melbourne, which opens on 20 January 2015, and everyone – including West End theatre owners – will be keen to see whether the show has been reworked sufficiently for a West End and Broadway run.

Luhrmann’s plan is to open in the West End in late 2015 or early 2016, although all of the London theatres his producers have scouted so far are currently busy.

Another Baz Luhrmann movie – Moulin Rouge – is frequently the most requested movie to be turned into a stage show, so who knows, maybe that will be next!

More about Strictly Ballroom on WestEndTheatre.com including video and photos >

Luvvie Watch: Baz Luhrman

We were delighted to read that Baz ‘Moulin Rouge’ Luhrmann is to bring his first movie – Strictly Ballroom – to the stage.

Strictly Ballroom - the movie
Strictly Ballroom - the movie

There is always much speculation about Baz converting his films into stage spectaculars (Moulin Rouge has been on the cards for ages), and their flamboyance and theatricality seem a natural fit with the sparkle of a show.

But as Baz tells Baz in the Daily Mail today, he’s unwilling to let just anyone have a play with his children: “A cynical version would  have been to find some bright spark and say “Why don’t you go off and do a jukebox version and I turn up on opening night  and go ‘Isn’t it lovely?”, which is clearly Baz having a dig at the general trend for stars and creatives to put their name to things without any creative input.

But he goes on, “One has to be both honest and true to what the movie was, but also daring with  the execution on stage”, and in the new stage version he intends to “aggressively address the question of the theatrical invention one has to go through to make the piece alive, edgy and forward-moving”.

We love you Baz, we love Strictly Ballroom, and if anyone can reinvent musical theatre its you, but isn’t it simply a jolly old story set to sequins?

Just get on with it man.

SIDEBAR

Australian Entertainment company Global Creatures seems an odd choice for Baz Luhrmann to team up with on Strictly Ballroom, although they are clearly not short of money having hoovered up the rights to the show worldwide and forever. The company has mainly specialised in bringing animatronics to the stage having scored a huge success with the arena tour of Walking with Dinosaurs, and are in current development on a Broadway production of King Kong (yes, really) and DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon. We wonder if they will try popping a couple of animatronic ballroom dancers into Strictly?

Our favourite quote from Global Creatures CEO Carmen Pavlovic on the creation of King Kong for the new stage show: “If we put Kong in that very contained environment of a proscenium, we’ve got to make sure that in swiping his arms he doesn’t inadvertently knock over a cast member in the process. We had a lot to resolve before we did that.”

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