Review: Strictly Ballroom at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Review: Strictly Ballroom at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Review: Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical
As I walked up Grey Street towards the Thetare Royal in Newcastle, I saw the venue there shining bright- looking beautiful in all its sparkling glory. Which seemed fitting as I was about to see Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical.

I had seen the film version before, so I knew the storyline but just in case you are new to the musical, here is the synopsis. Essentially it’s like a Romeo and Juliet style story. Scott Hastings (played by Stricty Come Dancing professional, Kevin Clifton) is an Australian dancer who wants to break free from the strict federation dancing laws and dance his own steps, in the 80’s no one of course likes it or wants to see it except dance beginner Fran (played by ITV 1 Coronation Street Actress, Faye Brooks) But the question is, will their new coupling be a 10 in the Pan Pacifics Gran Prix? You’ll have to book tickets to find out.
The musical is Directed and Co-choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, who of course is a household name being a judge on 19 series of Strictly Come Dancing. His voice welcomed the audience in and set the show, which of course had the public in giggles.

Then we are off, spotlight on Clifton as he commands the stage with his fluid dance moves, he is so expressive and is able to tell a story and show such emotion all through his body. Not only that but I found myself taken a back when he started to sing- his voice is suited to musical theatre, such a lovely tone and quality to it.
Brooks also used physicality to portray the shy and timid character of Fran, very nervous at first as all she wants to do is dance with Scott. You can feel that yearning and love for Scott through her solo songs, her voice is tender and soft but you hear the emotion behind those words.But wow does he come out of her shell when she finds the rhythm in her heart with Scott, no longer is she this timid little girl anymore, Fran becomes a woman and brings the fire in the flamenco.

A surprising highlight for me was Rico (played by Jose Agudo) when Scott meets Fran’s family and they truly learn what it means to dance with love, passion and emotion. Scott thinks he knows everything about the Paso Doble but he knows nothing. Rico shows him a thing or two about the Paso, of course Agudo is trained as a professional Flameno Dancer and has been performing with Akram Khan Company. So when he moves, he does it with prosision, accuracy, intensity and passion. The audience were silent, completely in awe of what he was doing- like we were being hyponotised by his dance. I really think we were witnessing the traditional Paso Doble moves by Agudo.

The musical is breathtaking, I mean that quite literally. I am out of breath just watching the dancers, they are full of energy and never stop moving. Add to that the colourful, sparkly, sequinned numbers- it’s like I am watching parrots on stage, fly around in wonderful rainbow feathers.

As I watch the musical unfold, I found myself getting teary- thinking about Strictly Come Dancing judge, Len Goodman as he passed away recently. He would have loved to see Kevin from Grimsby dancing on the stage like this, bringing the magic of ballroom dance.
Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical is fab-u-lous and it’s a 10 from me.

Strictly Ballroom The Musical plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Mon 1 – Sat 6 May 2023. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010

-Gemma Hirst

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