To begin with I’d like to make a personal statement: what an honour to write this review, such an honour, it means so much, I’m just so grateful.
No, I am. Grateful. An honour.
It is at times like this that I would like to thank my mum and dad without whom none of this would have been possible. And my school teachers were highly influential, no, they really were, mainly because most of them couldn’t teach for buttons. I still don’t know what the nominative, accusative and dative is (are). And to all those others . . . thank you, thank you, thank you . . .
Alexandra Burke wasn’t abandoned as a baby and found in the rushes down the shallow end of The Thames when Isis was just in Oxford. She wasn’t discovered by the Pop World in an orphanage in Romania. And she didn’t live for a decade in downtown Yemen panicking about whether to worry about her next feed, international disease or which make of ballistic would have her name on it. In fact her mum was a great singing talent (Soul ll Soul), Alexandra was on the music scene very young, she did a variety of TV and talent shows and was brilliant on The X Factor. That was nine years ago. Her fame since has been well documented and she remains on the spectrum of Superstar.
So why, Alex? Why? Perhaps she doesn’t know? That she’s famous. Hasn’t she seen the billboards? Perhaps she’s dyslexic? Or can’t read? Doesn’t she know how magnificent she was in The Bodyguard? How she would have challenged Whitney in a sing off? A bit bonkers.
False modesty grates so much with the GBP that they are starting to lose patience and as a result Alex found herself in the dance off for the second time in eight days in spite of another top of the Leader Board performance, a Charleston to ‘Supercalifragilistic’ from Mary Poppins in Musicals Week, Bert beautifully bedecked in his Joseph blazer and the Pearly Kings and Queens leading the backing band. The toffee apple eating kids with chocolate around their mouths had gone AWOL though. All but one juddge reached for the ten in a bizarre example of dancing punditry. Craig has wafted the highest paddle just the once in the series so far. One wonders what he is waiting for. Unicorn droppings? A letter of approval from ET? Sightings of a baby pigeon?
Forgetting who choreographed the routine and who made who look good in the first place everyone gushed about who knew who was the pro? Three tens for her, a nine for her partner. She’s the star, he’s still learning. You could criticise him for not wearing a boater, like Dick van Dyke did in the original, but then again the fabulous Julie Andrews didn’t wear a lemon mini-skirt split to the hip either more’s the pity. The routine included a cupple of cartwheels by Alex, a reverse somersault and a kick and flick section that made her look like the Isle of Man national flag. Fabulous. Honest.
In a weekend of high quality the pleasure of the dance off and the displeasure of departure went to Darverd and the Steam Team, the cast now down to two pros and three novices, and just the one bloke. Perhaps next week Alex will be back dancing off against the lovely Debbie McGee? That would sort out a few things, wouldn’t it?
Apart from the lack of success with his razor Darverd has been brilliant. For a guy who couldn’t walk two months ago his transformation has been splendid but you knew that things weren’t going well when the entire panel criticised him without exception or praise. Five dancers were lorded, he was panned as if he’d done the PR for the South Yorkshire police after Hillsborough. Although he was equal fifth with 29 points it felt like the dye was already cast or ‘Alea Jacta Est’ as Caesar once said in Knottingley as he began crossing the River Aire. Had Darverd been dunn? In the name of a game show?
Did I say that he is like a brother to me, Darverd, always so supportive, like a real brother?
Descending from the sky on a Union Jack parachute, no, sorry, that was Blackpool, this time from a chandelier missing the four and twenty virgins, here was the first male celeb to dance the Argentine Tango, a tuff ask especially to Phantom of the Opera which used to be set in Paris as far as I remember. And so he didn’t really but the routine was magnificent especially in his more relaxed re-run, more Tango gymnastics than Buenos Aires, young Nads dipped, dropped, tipped and hoisted, her outfit, as it should be, straight from the brothel. One for the fantasy bank or words to that effect, stated Juddge Aggie. Never a truer word. As exits go it was rightly spectacular. He deserved more.
Did I say . . . brother . . ?
Sneaking through to the semi-final both the amateur girls sighed with relief, Gemma dancing a Quick Step to ‘Hello Dolly!’ from the musical, er, ‘Hello Dolly!’ and Mollie skipping through a Rumba to ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ from Grease, whatever that means. Apparently it’s the word?
Both were undeniably lucky. Either in the dance off would have been toast.
When asked to act like a Broadway diva Gemma found it easy; it was a bit like a Friday night in Bury; a few pints, bit of a scrap, a cheeky chunder in the cab home after a kebab. Adding in dance steps was more problematic, her face so focused that she forgot the pleasures to come, her head trying to balance the birds’ nest and feather headdress it was forced to carry for the duration of the routine. It looked like it was missing a knitting needle. When it was dunn, competent rather than dazzling, you knew that she was glad that it was all over. Throughout you couldn’t help picturing her partner dressed as Baloo the Bear. Don’t know why.
For Mollie and Aloysius Jackson the emotion in the Rumba was easy to convey, they’re like two young lambs prancing around an Easter meadow and they delivered the feel of one of the greatest movie musicals of all time brilliantly. I say movie. The stage version leaves a bit to be desired.
Mollie played Sandy dressed in virtuous white, and there, in a brown leather jacket she was met by . . . James Dean. I’m sure it was him. Huge quiff, white T, definitely Rebel with a Cause. Where was me old mate Travolta?
She began on a balcony and by chance seeing a dance floor and her beau below she minced and teased before launching herself into his arms, a lover’s trust, as he caught her and laid her out with care and affection. I suppose it was a lift of sorts but how else was she supposed to get down? No steps. No Stannah. The criticism from the judggies centred on the girly portrayal. Since when was Sandy some rough harlot from East Hull? Haven’t they seen the movie?
It was the first time that a delirious Mollie has received two nines and they were well deserved.
There was another first in the show; a Samba danced with pre-Nazi overtones. And you know immediately don’t you? Yup, no salute from here.
Set in the Kit Kat Club in Berlin in 1931, other chocolate confectionary is available, the world’s least favourite Austrian and his moll, Eva, smoked a cheroot and sipped a G & T at a corner table planning world decimation and waiting for the cabaret. His support team were on hand, one looking at the marketing strategy another the operational factors needed to impart overnight change to the flags of Europe. Joe was the unfortunate incumbent. Who did he upset?
I’m sure that you already know . . . the Samba, dating back to the 1920s, emerged in Rio, Brazil, a cultural institution that dominates carnivals, a concoction of dance, floats, parades, funn and party choreography, a celebration of the country’s Afro-Brazilian heritage. It isn’t a flapper dancing with the narrator of The Rocky Horror Show, Joe’s make-up sparking off memories of the great Nicholas Parsons, though there were no basks and fishnets, not until after the show anyhow. Juddge Aggie, the world’s greatest authority on the Samba wasn’t pleased. ‘Weird, Charleston, staccato, not fluid, disjointed.’ I had to ring the medics and reach for the defib machine to revive the poor love. As musical theatre it scored highly. As the destruction of an iconic dance it was a disaster. Vot ver zay zinking?
Have you ever seen Elaine Paige singing ‘Cry Me a River’? It’s on t’ t’Internet. Pure class. Well, apart from sleeping with the bloke who wrote the lyrics to a miriad of musicals – Superstar, Joseph, Evita, Chess, The Lion King, there are many more – it was the song ‘Memory’ that cemented her as the First Lady of British musicals. No not the one with ‘corners of my mind’ in the lyrics but ‘Midnight, not a sound from the pavement . . .’ yup, that’s the one, you know it.
It is sung by Grizabella, a cat, from Cats, a nostalgic memory of a once great life and now at the dawn of the next eight. This was the song that the lovely Debbie McGee and Gio used to perform an American Smooth, an unlikely back drop to another powerful exposé, joint top with . . . now what was her name?
I’m not a great one for cats unless it’s with sweet and sour sauce.
And if you’ve got a cat don’t be upset just get a dog.
But in spite of the two leads being dressed for fancy dress, nice ears Gio, and what looked like the sink from Juddge Lulu’s student flat at the back of the stage, either that or the sewers from Les Mis, this worked as another theatrical interpretation. If you were being harsh you could say that it was just a simple Viennese Waltz with a lift.
But what an lift! Her arms clasped around his neck and they turned, Debbie high and fast, her feet a metre clear of the floor. Then Gio released her body and centrifugal force kept her airborne, his hands not required. As the speed waned and she descended a Fleckerl kept the circle in motion; a standing turn finished it off.
Taken as a whole it purred with beauty. Debbie has tamed Gio; he respects her for everything that she is least of all his chance to be the first ever male Italian to lift The Glitter Ball Trophy. That would be one in the eye for Vincent Simone. And a horse’s head in Gio’s bed come Sunday December 17th.
Unless there’s a dance off with you know who next week.
Did I say how honoured I am, by the way? Did I?
December 8th 2017