Strictly Ballroom

Wales Millennium Centre

Until January 28

Strictly Ballroom is based on Baz Luhrmann's film from 1992 and being familiar with the film helps enormously but is not essential.

The musical has much of the charm of the film and the characterisations work well; the Aussie boy who wants to break away from the confines of conventional ballroom steps and the girl who wants to break away from the confines of her traditional Spanish family.

The background stories (the dance rivalries and corruption, the boy’s relationship with the eager mother and her frustrated ambitions, and the father who seemingly failed) are all well-handled.

What does not come across as strongly is just why the Spanish family is so protective of their daughter, presumably racism or at least xenophobia,

The substitution of Kevin Clifton as Scott Hastings by the elegant Edwin Ray didn’t bother me in the slightest. As Fran, soap and dance show actress Maisie Smith may have worked with Kevin before but the chemistry between her and her beau seemed magical to me.

This is a gently balanced comedy and Rom-Com with the humour largely provided by Nikki Belsher and Mark Sangster as Shirley and Doug Hastings, Gary Davis as Barry Fife, and Quinn Patrick as Les Kendall.

This production, directed by Craig Revel Horwood and co-directed with Jason Gilkison, has the cast members singing musical numbers and, as with the film, has well-known numbers plus some (not that great) original songs written for the show. The pop songs ‘Time After Time’ and ‘Love Is in The Air’ are standout favourites.

The dance is wonderful from a gorgeous cast of professionals, a particularly powerful Jose Agudo the costumes as garish and eye popping as you could want, and you are guaranteed to leave the venue with a smile on your face.

Mike Smith