On paper, the idea of Strictly Gershwin is just ‘S’wonderful’ - the stunning English National Ballet collaborating with Royal Albert Hall singers in a celebration of two of the greatest musical brothers. In reality, it is an unfortunate disappointment.
The dancing is of a calibre that cannot be disputed. The company is, as ever, beautiful to watch, but their performances are not to the standard of their Giselle or Cinderella.
Where ordinarily a minor collision between performers could be ignored, or slightly out-of-sync gestures would go unnoticed, in this instance they stand out - purely for the reason that anybody that has seen the ensemble before expects nothing less than perfection. They have set themselves a high bar, and now they must continually meet it to impress.
Followers of the dancers will also be used to breathtaking lifts, beautiful costumes and captivating storytelling. However, dresses, set and movements are not of their usual quality, and since the production rattles numbers off, one after another, with no real sense of continuity, romantic pas-de-deux’s become ‘samey.’
Saying that, the routine to "Someone to Watch Over Me" is simultaneously charming and cheeky, and the enjoyability factor of the dancing far exceeds that of the vocals.
What is more, it is refreshing to see the live band performing on-stage, getting some of the limelight they deserve. In fact, it is the conductor himself who is the real steal of the night, getting into the spirit of his music and comically interacting with the crowd.
Strictly Gershwin has all the makings of something truly magnificent, but for now it just ain’t necessarily so.