REVIEW: KEEP DANCING (New Wimbledon Theatre) ★★★
‘Keep Dancing’ sells itself perfectly off the back of the BBC hit show Strictly Come Dancing. As a fan of the show, I went in to the New Wimbledon Theatre looking forward to a night of glitz, glamour and class that emanates from the show. Sadly however, I was left wanting.
Most of Act 1 played out like a stilted dance variety show, riddled with technical errors that couldn’t help you feeling sorry for the very talented performers. Grand introductions were made for special guests, Strictly 2015 Winners Jay McGuiness and Aliona Vilani, only for their first few routines to fall disappointingly flat. The great connection between them on the TV show was lost in this performance with McGuiness looking almost bored at times. The exception to this was their iconic ‘Pulp Fiction’ routine, which was still easily identifiable despite using different music, and proved a definite crowd pleaser.
The show redeemed itself hugely in the form of Robin Windsor and Anya Garnis , performing some truly beautiful routines as well as leading ensemble numbers. Charisma and showmanship oozed from Windsor, who quickly had the audience in the palm of his hand. The unsung heroes of the piece were without a doubt the talented ensemble, relentlessly executing number after number with admirable precision and energy. The American 1940s ‘sock hop’ jive sequence at the end of Act one was faultless, with so much character, it played out like a scene from a musical. Another highlight for me was the modern hip hop style duet to ‘I Want It That Way’, which shouldn’t have worked in theory, but was effortlessly charming with such chemistry between dancers Mason Boyce and Rose Wild.
I felt the absence of a live band was felt in the show. Three excellent singers relied on pre recorded backing tracks which cheapened the show slightly for me. There were two very talented percussionists present on stage for some sections, but a lot of their work was lost within the backing track, making their presence a little redundant. A particular mention must go to Lisa- Marie Holmes, whose breathtaking vocals added real sense of class to the evening.
All in all, it was an entertaining evening, but the production values let the piece down. Awkward music fades and lighting blunders let the cast down. As much as Windsor and his ensemble wowed in places, Strictly fans will run the risk of leaving a little deflated.
Reviewed by Laura Milas