Strictly for entertainment

Picture of Vincent and Flavia

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace are dancing 'til dawn, or at least for two hours a show

Dance ‘til Dawn

New Alexandra Theatre

****

THIS is Philip Marlowe in sequins as Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace produce an elegant vehicle to display their amazing dancing skills.

The dances are worked into a storyline which affectionately pokes fun at the era of 1940’s gangster films set in the murky world of private detectives as we open in the office of dishevelled, overweight, cynical PI Tommy Dubrowski, played with tremendous timing and a sense of fun by Teddy Kempner.

Had Raymond Chandler done comedy then Teddy could well have been one of his characters.

He works for big Sam, the big Picture of Vincent and Flavia in a sultry momentcrime boss in town, which brings him into contact with Sam’s broad Lana– note how we get into character - played wonderfully by Abbie Osman.

Osman, whose character tells us repeatedly that she is not happy, gives us not only glamour but plenty of fun in her running double act with Kempner, but, when she has to, she can really belt out a song as in That's Life,  her big number as she is led off to jail.

Lana is the sort of baddy in all this, a moll with menace, except its all a bit tongue in cheek so you can’t help but like her – Tommy certainly does . . .lots.

Vincent and Flavia in a sultry moment

Meanwhile back at the plot, Flavia plays Hollywood star Sadie Strauss, whose screen partner and lover Bobby Burns is cheating on her with Lana, which, as it turns out, is a bit of a fatal attraction.

You see Tommy, is the photographer in a blackmail racket run by Big Sam involving pictures of celebs in compromising situations, like Tommy and Lana naked for instance, which could lead to a break up for Lana, or more likely a dismemberment, if big Sam finds out.

So when the pictures end up in the wrong hands at the shakedown with Bobby, Bobby ends up on the wrong side of being alive, with a little help from Lana and her gun – although even as a murder victim he did remember to tuck his arms in neatly as he was dragged through a doorway. We do like a tidy corpse.

Would be star Tony Deluca, meanwhile, played by Vincent Simone, has the hots for Sadie and with Bobby found to be a philanderer, and, perhaps more importantly, dead,  his chances improve no end, with a happy ever after future appearing over the horizon, that is until Lana sets him up with the police as the fall guy for the murder.

We the truth be discovered? Will Tony and Sadie live happily ever after? Hardly matters really, the narrative is there to give he dances a reason and we all know it will end happily.

The show is really neither play nor musical although there is some fine singing, particularly from Oliver Darley as The Voice. His rendition of that old Breakast at Tiffany’s Henry Mancini favourite, Moon River, was particularly impressive as was Stand By Me.

This is a show all about dance, and particularly a chance for Vincent and Flavia to showcase their talents, and we had it all with foxtrots and quicksteps and finally their signature dance the Argentine Tango.

How they manage that at that speed without bruised  and battered shins, and worse in Vincent’s case, is a mystery.

They were not alone though and the whole ensemble showed the sort of skills and techniques you expect of professional dancers. Vincent and Flavia, to their credit, don’t hog the limelight. They might be the headliners but there is plenty of opportunity and scope for the 13 strong ensemble to strut their stuff.

There are plenty of send ups of the Hollywood black and white detective thrillers of the 30s and 40s such as Tommy’s observation when Tony was cleared: “The judge wasn’t best pleased but she knew a last- minute plot twist when she saw one’, or his view that Sadie knew where the incriminating photographs had been hidden by Lana because “someone might have told her, or she might have read the script”.

Tommy Dubrowski, played by with Lana, played by Abbie Osman, Teddy Kempner, who make a fine double act

This is a follow up to Vincent and Flavias successful Midnight Tango tour which, as the name suggests, concentrated on  . . . the Tango.

This has more variety and a more narrative story which helps to break up the dances and gives them a little more purpose, such as a flirty dance with a hat or the romantic Moon River and a sensuous dance with prison bars.

As for the music, eight musicians might be a small big band, but they made up for it with a big, big sound under musical director Mark Crossland. 

Director and choreographer Karen Bruce keeps up a good pace and injects plenty of fun into both the script by Ed Curtis and the dancing on a simple, but effective setting from Morgan Large.

If there is a criticism it perhaps comes more from the billing than the production, with its description as a dance show from the Golden Age of Hollywood, which conjures up elegant images of the likes of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly sweeping up and down glittering staircases, whereas the Golden Age portrayed is closer to the likes of Humphrey Bogart and George Raft  - not that that matters. The audience were there to see Vincent and Flavia dance.

The pair might have become stars through BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing but they are shining very brightly on their own these days thank you, and have found their perfect niche to take ballroom from the dance floor to new levels on stage. To 26-04-14.

Roger Clarke

21-04-14

 

And on the other foot . . .

*****

AFTER their triumphs in Strictly Come Dancing and with the hit show Midnight Tango, Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have done it again.

This time it’s a dance and song spectacular celebrating the golden age of Hollywood, and the audience are treated to a non-stop treat of eye-popping skill and fabulous footwork.

Vincent plays Tony Deluca with Flavia the beautiful starlet Sadie Strauss in 1940s LA, and the lovers become accidentally involved with crooks, though the plot is fairly minor compared with the awesome dancing of the couple and the rest of an outstanding cast.

Even the gangsters can dance in this show, and there is plenty of humour too, mainly inspired by the rubber-faced Teddy Kempner who, as Tommy Dubrowski, is the perfect narrator. “My wife left me, but sometimes I’m so miserable it’s like she’s still here,” he groans.

Abbie Osmon is a delight as dizzy blonde singer Lana Clemenza, and while the dancers are the big hitters, there is an excellent contribution from Oliver Darley as The Voice, his singing of Moon River to accompany Vincent and Flavia in one sketch is particularly moving.

Vincent lands in prison after being framed over a wallet theft, which leads to yet another behind-bars spellbinder with Flavia before the perfect pair sparkle in a dance where their wrists are chained together.

The choreography by Vincent, Flavia and show director Karen Bruce is breathtaking throughout. To 26.04.14 

Paul Marston

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