Rip It Up – The 60s review at Garrick Theatre, London – ‘stylish and energetic’
Following a UK tour and a brief stint at the Palladium last year Rip It Up – The 60s gets a limited transfer to the West End. As the title suggests, the producers take a selection of period hits and get Gareth Walker to choreograph the hell out of them.
In this rose-tinted nostalgia-fest the headliners are all alumni of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, including boy band members Harry Judd, Aston Merrygold, Jay McGuiness and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith.
It’s a fairly formulaic set-up, reminiscent of a television Saturday night special complete with a presenter Cavin Cornwall introducing the acts.
The ensemble provide dance partners and backing for some of the wild company numbers but this show is owned by its 21st century Fab Four, who ooze charm and share a mutual obvious passion for dance. A statuesque McGuiness proves a versatile performer, shifting easily from paso doble to a funked-up Charleston, while Smith relishes the opportunity for many medal-worthy back-flips amid some drama-infused routines. Judd too demonstrates an easy grace but really lets go on the drums during a rousing Nutbush City Limits.
The real live wire in this quartet however is Merrygold, late of JLS and by far the most accomplished all-rounder. His several musical interludes including a gently soaring Whiter Shade of Pale showed a deep emotional connection to the music, while the intensity of his dance, accompanied by an equally impassioned Charlie Bruce, is quite mesmerising. Essentially a dance showcase, Jill Marie Cooper and Antony Brant provide some powerhouse vocals for this light-hearted celebratory gig.
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