Now that most reality TV talent shows are off the screen, the tours are underway. Britain's Got Talent opened in Manchester yesterday night and at the same time, Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova danced till they dropped at the Bridgewater Hall, taking a break from the Strictly Come Dancing schedule, by touring in their own show; Latin Fever.
If you watch the show for the teeth 'n' smiles that Baz Lurhman sent up so deliciously and spot-on in the hit film Strictly Ballroom, then Latin Fever may not be for you. And to prove this point, one elderly lady opposite me spent most of the evening with her fingers in her ears. Susan Boyle was not singing though, that's the other talent show.
What is great about Latin Fever, is that the dancing duo do just that. There are no crass jokes or awkward "when we were growing up" sections ala Brendan Cole's solo show. Darren and Lilia know what their audience want and like Lady Gaga's breakthrough hit, they just dance.
They are not alone though, as they are joined by eight dancers, including the athletic Stephen Vincent who brings youth and vitality to the show. The group numbers are quite breath-taking and certainly leave you wanting more. There is no set to speak of, and the lighting effects are too little too late. The show is crying out for more in terms of budget as the venues are packed and at times, there is nothing to see.
In terms of cheese, the omlette does seem over-egged during Livin' La Vida Loca when the male singer seems to think he is Mick Jagger. All of his posturing is wasted as people have paid to see Fever, not a Richard Hammond lookalike in leather 'troosers.'
At times, the pace slackens and there are too many costume changes, leading to these ill judged moments of unintenional hilarity as the male singer starts to move like he is the headline act; a tribue to Jim Morrison but comes across like it's Chico time!
But, Darren and Lilia's choreography is stunning and gives the dancers plenty to do and they all rise to the challenge. As for the Strictly stars themselves, they prove that they have the mettle to carry on beyond the limited confines of the hit TV show.