Published On: Sun, May 12th, 2024
Entertainment | 3,043 views

Strictly, The Professionals: This show does not dissappoint | Theatre | Entertainment

Strictly Come Dancing devotees have already been treated to a celebrity live tour and now the professionals are shimmying on the stage once more – without a single judge in sight! Full of memorable showstoppers adapted from last year’s live shows, this glittering two-hour performance oozes razzmatazz from start to finish. Creative director Jason Gilkison’s ambitious choreography features a mishmash of new numbers mixed in with some recognisable favourites. It seamlessly blends the traditional with the contemporary in true Strictly style.

Returning to the stage at the iconic London Palladium are 12 pros, with stalwarts Karen Hauer, Neil Jones, Dianne Buswell, Gorka Marquez, Luba Mushtuk and Graziano Di Prima joining newer faces Carlos Gu, Nancy Xu, Nikita Kuzmin, Jowita Przystał and Michelle Tsiakkas – who joined the show as a pro for its most recent series. Newbie Michelle gets her own introduction section on her first Strictly Pro tour as we are told of her Cypriot roots and passion for Latin dancing.

There is a slick use of video footage on a background screen which blends with the live action on stage. Quips and skits with the pros speaking directly to the crowd intersperse with the live dancing, which helps to keep the pace to allow time for multiple changes into an array of dazzling outfits. (Wardrobe chief Vicky Gill gets a personal —and well-deserved— shout-out in the second half.)

An emotional tribute to former Strictly pro Robin Windsor, who sadly died this year, was a touching reminder of the friendship and shared passion these dancers all have for their craft. And this was something reflected in a brief monologue from Dianne in which she pinpointed the fact so many of these artists had chosen to leave their homes in pursuit of their dreams. The 35-year-old Australian said: “It may be hard, sometimes, but we all have each other.” Her words fed into a climatic number to the soundtrack of the Grease classic “We Will Always Be Together”.

There was also a moving Tina Turner segment, which paid tribute to the late great star’s enduring legacy and legendary status in the world of music. An enthusiastic rendition of the classic hit “Proud Mary” had the audience on their feet with a raucous wave of cheers and whoops. A nod, here, to the impressive vocal performances of Patrick Smyth and Tara McDonald – who both got involved in the dancing too! Karlos Edwards and Andrew Small also deserve praise for excellent percussion and drumming respectively — cementing the band’s cohesion well.

There are spotlight dances for everyone, with a particular highlight being an understated and elegant rumba danced by Luba and Graziano to an epic cover of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill – McDonald’s vocals are spot on. But it was ultimately the group numbers that stole the show, demonstrating the best qualities of this team come out when they all perform together. The show’s ecstatic finale drew a total standing ovation and even the hint of a tear in the eyes of reigning champ Vito’s eyes.

This show, along with the TV series, purveys a wonderfully British sense of coming together, with a joyful audience of all ages enjoying the magic of dance.

The UK-wide tour continues until June 1. Tickets:

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