If entertainment is what you are after, Blaze is difficult to fault. The new street dance show that marries hip-hop moves with West End production values is the work of West End supremo Anthony van Laast (Mamma Mia!, Sister Act). It features 12 able dancers, three ace breakers, an MC/comedian, a vibrant set by Es Devlin, and some good dance routines that will wow the teens – although parents should take ear plugs (the recorded soundtrack will test all but the most committed).
The breakers are especially good. Neguin, Mouse and Machine have muscled bodies and compact frames which make them ideal for the one-handed hops and shoulder and head spins they knock off with considerable flair. Their nimble, lightening maneuvers are faster and more daring than you will see almost anywhere, while their on-stage charisma, and appealing looks, mean they easily steel the show. DJ Hazze is almost as good a mover, with a large frame that adds considerable humor to his body waves and shoulder spins. His Food Song, where his moves mimic broccoli, steak and celery, among others, is laugh-aloud funny.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these four put the regular dancers in the shade. The problem could be overcome by giving them less obviously choreographed routines – the ones they have seem to sap their spontaneity and make them seem less good than they really are. You only appreciate their true ability at the end of the 90-minute show, when the full cast get a chance to dance freestyle. Each of them comes forward in turn and spins and breaks away, with their enthusiasm and cool prompting the audience to cheers of delight.
If Van Laast could capture this spontaneity and irreverence over the entire show, he would have a monster hit on his hands. As it is, he’ll have to make do with it being only great good fun.