Review: Dance ‘Til Dawn
By Alan Wooding
I was faced with something of a dilemma last night. I can’t exactly described Dance ‘Til Dawn as a proper musical or as a song and dance show … it somehow falls into it’s own special category.
Starring Strictly Come Dancing favourites Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone, this week’s offering at Milton Keynes Theatre is a blend of drama, comedy, wit and some spectacular dance routines that have all the glitz and glamour of a dazzling West End production.
It also has an impressive ever-changing set which seems to suit every occasion – a nightclub, a courthouse, a film studio and even a pool party in which a comedy soundtrack has the whole audience laughing heartily.
The action reflects the golden age of Hollywood and in particular the sparkle and glamour of the 1940s Los Angeles set.
Narrated in a strong New York accent by private detective Tommy Dubrowski, brilliantly played by Teddy Kempner – he reminded me of disshelved television ‘tec’ Peter Falk’s Columbo – the story centres around Flavia as stunning Hollywood actress Sadie Strauss who suspects her lover, Bobby Burns, of cheating on her with Marilyn Monroe-lookalike, sexy nightclub singer Lana Clemenza played by Abbie Osmon.
However detective Dubrowski also fancies the lovely Lana and with several twists and turns, Tony Deluca (Vincent Simone) finds himself blamed for shooting the low-life Burns in cold blood … and it’s all because of some naked photographs of Lana plus a craftly switch of Burns’ wallet.
Dance ‘Til Dawn is actually the title of a soon to be shot film featuring film stars Sadie Strauss and Bobby Burns but Deluca tries to get in on the act at the rehearsals.
Directed by Karen Bruce, who was also responsible for much of choreography, there are some great slapstick moments, although seeing Flavia and Vincent dancing a comical sequence with a hat and then hiding under some boxes is all very entertaining.
The big band-style music is really great while singer Oliver Darley – a former winner of New Musical Express’ Vocalist of the Year title – was absolutely superb, his Michael Buble-style while performing both ballards and swing had everyone’s feet tapping while the romantic dance by Flavia and Vincent that accompanied his ‘Moon River’ was sheer brilliance.
There was also a wonderful rendition of ‘That’s LIfe’ sung by drama queen Lana and that too had the audience in raptures, especially after she is accompanied to the prison cells by two dancing policemen.
I also loved ‘Stand By Me’ which was performed behind prison bars and the opera-like ‘Mi Mancherai’ sung by Giovanni Spano … it all adds to both the comedy and serious aspect of the show while reflecting it’s wonderful slick and glitzy style.
Thankfully Dancing ‘Til Dawn is never too serious. The quality of movement by the whole cast, and especially former world Argentine Tango champions Vincent and Flavia, leaves you breathless.
The two ‘Strictly’ stars have been playing to standing ovations ever since their 2010 hit show Midnight Tango but, according to several members of the audience, this was even better.
The pair performed some exquisite and emotional routines which seemed to leave the entire Bank Holiday Monday audience spellbound. In fact I think it’s the first show that I’ve ever seen where the two lead characters don’t actually utter a single word!
Their footwork, speed and agility is truly amazing and while I’m certainly no dance expert, I was told during the interval that there were a series of clever quicksteps, waltzes, foxtrots plus an amazing Charleston routine, all of which were performed to perfection.
The whole cast – there are 13 other brilliant dancers and singers in the ensemble – must be congratulated for what is a truly great piece of theatre. In fact the only thing missing for regular ‘Strictly’ fans were Bruce Forsyth’s awful jokes and those acid comments dished out by Craig Revel Horwood!
If I were in head judge Len Goodman’s shoes, then I would probably have to ignore his trademark ‘Sev-vern’ and give Dancing ‘Til Dawn the full ten – it really is that good!
Dancing ‘Til Dawn runs for 110 minutes (including a 20 minute intermission) and plays Milton Keynes until this coming Saturday (May 10) with tickets priced from £17.90 to £48.90 (booking fees apply) while they are available from the theatre box office on 08448 717652 or on-line at www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes