Review: Dancing In A Winter Wonderland

Dancing in a Winter Wonderland – Sunday 26th November 

For last night’s entertainment we took to The Glasshouse – International Centre for Music or formerly known as the Sage Gateshead for a wonderful evening full of Christmas festivities with two very special Strictly Come Dancing Stars – Janette and Aljaz. 

From the moment we entered The Glasshouse, it was full of Christmas spirit. Christmas trees and declarations galore. What a totally stunning and unique venue. It was my first time there and I was blown away by the sheer size of it. A special mention to the staff working there, attentive and friendly, they certainly went above and beyond in their roles asking people if they knew they were going and guiding them. Inside the performance hall, it is grand and impressive and the seating is brilliant – all raked seating so you are able to see regardless of where you are seated. I really was wholly impressed by all of this alone. 

The show promised to pack a Christmas punch with world class choreography, fabulous costumes and amazing sets with the greatest hits of Christmas and boy, did it deliver! From the moment we sat down the festive cheer hit us right in the face with the gorgeous backdrop. The staging was incredibly simple with two white framed doors and a set of stairs in the middle of the stage. The backdrop was made up of several screens which had projections on them throughout the evening and were surrounded by dazzling lights. 

The show began with The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, where the chorus of dancers entered in the most incredible golden jumpsuits and set our evening off to a great start. Throughout, the costuming was just exquisite and you could see how much dedication and detail had gone into preparing this. Joining the insanely talented dancers on stage were two clearly, very experienced singers who sang beautifully throughout the entirety of the show. The selection of songs was just so wholesome and definitely songs the audience could remember and be excited about. Adrian Hansel was our male singer with his sultry tones and delicious vocals and Miranda Wilford who harmonized so wonderfully with him. Her vocal range was truly remarkable and they accompanied the dancing so well. I was blown away with their dancing whilst singing too as they weren’t just stand alone singers. Very impressive. 

As we reached the end of the first song our stars took the stage with a rapturous applause from the audience. They clearly have many fans, from all of their years on Strictly, however, in their own right too. I could totally see why as they are just beyond charming together. Janette is truly a fiery pocket rocket and Aljaz has to be one of the funniest, most charming men around. Charisma just oozed out of every part of him. He was already onto a winner when he addressed the crowd with a Haway! He stated he was now a Geordie and this was his home. He clearly loved spending time in the North East with his last ever Strictly partner Sara Davies, who was actually in the audience, who both Janette and Aljaz love dearly and spoke so fondly of- rightly so, she really is one of a kind. They went onto talk about how this tour was the first time they’d danced together for a year due to the birth of their beautiful new baby- Lyra Rose. 

They had an instant connection with the audience and were truly naturals at it although Aljaz was a little nervous as he adored the Glassworks venue so much. Janette was a firecracker and carried most of the dialogue with the audience whilst Aljaz made silly jokes. A match made in heaven with those two. They then moved onto the Rat Pack Christmas section where we got to listen and see a wonderful medley of classic songs brought to life. We saw some wonderful choreography throughout this section, mostly Ballroom here and if I’m correct, using my Strictly knowledge, we watched a mesmerizing American Smooth. The dancers just glided effortlessly across the stage and I am always so envious of how easy they make it look. Although I do know there would have been months of practice they make it look easy! 

We were quickly transported to their very own love story where Janette came out in the most incredible bright red outfit- a short sparkly red dress and a huge, dramatic red coat. Surprisingly, Janette sang this part and I was so shocked at how good her voice was. A woman of many talents. We got to witness the most incredible Jive with such slick footwork. The moves throughout were just so seamless and they all had every move in perfect unison with each other whilst still honing their own craft making it unique to each of their styles. 

There was a huge emphasis on love, kindness and the real true meaning of Christmas. They portrayed this so beautifully and kept pushing this message to the audience. They even got the audience to turn to someone they didn’t know and wish each other a Merry Christmas. To end the first act we were treated with a beautiful Waltz to White Christmas and a wonderful end with Joy to the World. 

Opening Act Two, the cast were dressed as wonderful Christmas characters and they came through the audience which was such a lovely touch. Janette and Aljaz high fived and made their way to the stage and made so many evenings with their closeness to the audience. I adored the costumes during this point and particularly loved the Buddy the Elf costume which was played on when after the opening number, The Magic of Christmas, he ran back out shouting “Santa, I know him!!” This really gave the audience a giggle. 

Much to Janette’s delight, the next section was a very merry Disney Christmas where they danced to a special song that they sang to Lyra every day whilst she was still in the tummy. When you wish upon a star was accompanied by yet another stunning ballroom dance which as we know Aljaz just excels at. The screen displayed beautiful pictures of their journey of having a baby and this was a really special, personal touch that we got to share with them. They then danced to Into the Unknown and Let it Go from Frozen and it was spectacular. It was so refreshing to see such a wide variety of dance styles being used throughout and this contemporary number sent shivers down my spine. Meaningful, moving and expertly performed. The dive from the stairs was bold and truly remarkable. 

The next section was just so much fun too as Janette looked incredible in her Santa outfit as she performed Santa Baby with all of the male dancers around her. Once again, beautifully sang. The shock of the evening had to be Aljaz singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I was amazed at his singing voice and at first I heard the audience giggling but they soon quietened down when they realized just how good he was. It was really well performed but he is just so adorable he can pull anything off. Beyond charming. 

My favourite part of the whole show however came right at the penultimate song. Janette always dreamed of spending Christmas in New York as a Rockette and because this was her show she transported us all there. Starting with Englishman in New York, then into a carnival style song from West Side Story and ending with Fairytale of New York. Beautifully sang and it was electric upon the stage. So theatrical, big and bold within the pub scene you were really transported there. They used the props around them so well and I loved the use of the chairs to dance on stage. Such brilliant choreography. 

We reached the end of our show sadly but they got us all on our feet for the end for a sing and dance to some truly classic, feel good Christmas songs and I boogied away especially to All I want for Christmas. 

What a truly special evening that really got me in the mood for Christmas. Stunning costumes throughout, so much glitz and glamour. Expertly choreographed routines which were delivered with such Gousto by the amazing dancers- Aimee Hipson, Nick Stuart, Kiera Brunton, Alex Sturman, Robbie Metoni, Faye Huddlestone and Ryan Lee Seager. They truly left nothing to be desired and performed their hearts out. 

I would definitely recommend this show and cannot pick out a single fault. Thank you for such a wonderfully entertaining evening- full of joy, happiness and immense talent.

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