Review: Strictly’s Brendan Cole brings out Grantham’s love of ballroom
It was certainly a ‘Night to Remember’ at Grantham’s Meres on Friday, as promised in the so titled tour of Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole.
Having been a professionl partner on the TV hit since it started 10 years ago, Cole has become a celebrity himself, and his name drew a packed audience to the Meres. However this was far from a one-man show - after all it takes two to tango - and in this case a talented team of dancers, musicians, singers and stage crew took us though a spectacular evening of entertainment.
From the outset they went big on both the music and moves, with the drama of 2001’s Space Odyssey matched by powerful paso doble cape work and pyrotechnics.
Over the course of the night an international ensemble waltzed, quickstepped and foxtrotted their way through all of the dances seen on Strictly, while also performing other styles, dressed in an array of stunning costumes. A classy contemporary number to Fever saw dancer Crystal Main’s dress and steps sparkle as much as her name, and later the troupe embraced country and donned hats and boots in a Wild West themed, cowboys versus bandits routine to ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia.’
Just as the dancers were able to demonstrate their prowess in a mix of styles, so too were the band and singers Iain Mackenzie and Julie Maguire, who took centre stage at points during the night.
The routines were also broken up by Cole addressing the audience, when he related amusing anecdotes from behind the scenes at Strictly, with yet more revelations during a Q&A session with pianist and musical director Barry Robinson. The questions for this were supplied by the audience during the interval, and as Robinson said most were on the ‘saucy’ side and related to both Cole and his fellow Stricly professionals’ physiques.
However the ‘bad boy of ballroom’ has clearly mellowed, and was keen to discuss how becoming a father had influenced his favourite routine of the night - a fairytale Viennese waltz to Steven Curtis Chapman’s Cinderella.
As Cole himself acknowledged from the length of applause, it seems that Granthamians are ‘ballroom fans’, and indeed the slower dances had a way of holding your attention - in particular a captivating waltz between Cole and his leading lady Fauve Hautot.
This is not to say that there wasn’t plenty to watch in the jam-packed latin dances, where the fast footwork was made only niftier by the ability of the eight dancers to perform on a relatively narrow stage, with the half-joking warnings to the front row adding an element of danger.
Cole’s only mis-step was praising the ‘city’ of Grantham, but this didn’t stop the audience from being on his side and by the end of the night on their feet, letting Cole and the whole cast know that they would be welcomed back to town in the future.