Dance ‘Til Dawn – Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol

Dance Til Dawn

Published on Public Reviews 25th March 2015

There’s a reason why composers of musicals sweat so much over the eleven o’clock number. Send an audience home happy and the battle has almost been won. Whatever has come before gets a different glow depending on these final moments. Dance ‘Til Dawn’s finale is an Argentine Tango of such thrilling virtuosity that one feels the chest tighten as though in love’s first flush. Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace demonstrate a mastery of their form that is as impressive as Messi in full flight. The dancing is sublime throughout. Unfortunately for this and the dances that have come before, a narrative has been chucked into the mix as well.

Ed Curtis’ film noir book (scandalous pictures, a murder, an innocent man behind bars) must have taken all of an afternoon and a knocked-back double scotch to concoct, full of tiresome in-jokes ‘She had everything a girl could want – including her own entrance music’ and a plot banged together as one would an Ikea flat pack. It’s a hybrid of a show, not fully a musical, yet not trusting in the idea of pure dance as story in the way Matthew Bourne has made his métier. So we’re treated to painful exposition from Teddy Kempner’s private eye, a vamped up Marilyn femme fatale from Abbie Osmon and some rather fetching crooning from Oliver Darley from standards of the era and beyond.

Yet no one has come to see this expecting China Town or LA Confidential. What wins us over is dancing that has enchanted ten million people on a Saturday night. The ensemble is hard-working and full of charm but it’s clear from their entrance applause who the stars are. Simone, an old fashioned matinee idol – the kind  to make a mother swoon rather than a daughter, and Cacace, flashing her killer pins and striking cheekbones, produce Rumbas, Sambas, Foxtrots and Paso Dobles out of the top drawer in Karen Bruce’s staging, that ensure these Strictly Come Dancing favourites always remain the centre of our focus.

One wonders if the production should have enough courage to ditch the plot and become a paean to pure movement, or if not, at least ditch the storytelling for dummies route. For their fans this won’t matter a jot; what will is getting the opportunity to witness dancing of the highest calibre performed live by those who have become household names through sheer dint of their talent. In this day of instant celebrity this isn’t to be sniffed at.

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