Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour review at Arena Birmingham – ‘cheesy, vibrant, fun’
Glitter balls, sequins and lame jokes. Strictly Come Dancing is now in its 11th year, it has a formula that works and it’s sticking with it.
Winner of 2016 series Ore Oduba is this year’s lively, likeable host. His charm lifts the predictable TV show format and warms the huge arena crowd – who only require mild encouragement.
There are seven couples competing and they each exhibit their two best dances from the series. This makes for a strong selection, especially across the second half of the show. There’s a sizzling American Smooth from Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse filled with impressive lifts, a fierce and powerful Paso Doble danced by Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skornjac, and a dark, daring Argentine Tango from 2017 winners Joe McFadden and Katya Jones that brings the audience to their feet.
The firm favourite is Debbie McGee’s Salsa, in which the crowd enthusiastically join in Giovanni’s game of spelling out her name. They are ultimately crowned the winners of the opening night, but it is Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton that truly steal the show. Susan has an effervescent energy that suffuses the auditorium. Her Wonder Woman Samba may play to comic value rather than technique, but it’s fun nonetheless.
The Strictly tour is a fun, fan-pleasing show, featuring high-octane group numbers from the brilliant professional dancers – accompanied by a full suite of pyrotechnics – that strive for maximum effect.
It may be cheesy, and the judges’ pre-rehearsed comments occasionally misalign with the actual execution of a dance, but it’s a vibrant, good-natured show. It doesn’t matter though – if Craig didn’t play the pantomime villain (his comments solicit catcalls from the audience) and Bruno didn’t over enthuse in his sequin clad suit, then it wouldn’t be Strictly.