I have lost count of the Strictly spin-off shows I’ve attended as I approach Dance to the Music wondering what it can do differently to anything I’ve seen before. With the Strictly: The Live Tour, Brendan Cole: Live and Unjudged and Puttin’ on the Ritz to name but a few, what is there left to showcase in Strictly world? Clearly, in the view of Plymouth, my venue for the evening, not much. I am horrified that the premier venue for entertainment in my home county is just a shade over half full.
It quickly becomes clear that this is the band’s tour whom the majority of the evening will revolve around. Our beloved Strictly dancers are simply vehicles to enhance the stunning voices of Tommy Blaize and co.. Shame no one told the marketing bods with their six foot high posters of Strictly’s golden couple Kara and Artem outside. The Strictly faithful no doubt mindlessly booked their tickets hoping to reminisce back to the Winter of 2010 where the greatest Strictly love story since Ali and Brian began.
On average, a dance is performed to one in every three tracks sung by the brilliant house band led by Dave Arch, and when this does occur you are transported back to the fairy-lit utopia of the Strictly studio, Lance Ellington’s voice crooning away, beautiful costuming, rhinestones galore. When they stop I am half expecting Brucie to shuffle on and tell them they’re his favourites. A particular audience pleaser includes a recreation of Holly and Artem’s Black Swan routine, this time danced flawlessly by Kara who more than holds her own surrounded by professionals. This said. One in every three tracks. What the band do, they do wonderfully and without a doubt it should be their faces on those posters.
Elephant in the room addressed, it is easy to praise the new and old choreography displayed throughout the show. Robin and Kristina sparkle in their dreamy American Smooth to Somewhere Over the Rainbow, floating around the stage with poise and grace. Similarly their Rumba to Jar of Hearts is something very special where a barefoot Kristina throws herself into some brave lifts and jumps. Be warned, however, there is audience participation – an experience which always has my head diving into my handbag in embarrassment.
The show is an interesting concept and one that I was willing to come off, yet the singers and dancers who do their jobs perfectly just don’t quite gel together into one seamless show. Dance to the Music, for me, is summed up by the moment when Andrea Grant belts out Crazy in Love early in the second act. It’s fabulous, but I am longing for a flashy Cha Cha to accompany it.