Dance professionals Natalie Lowe, Artem Chigvintsev, Ian Wait and Strictly Come Dancing semi-finalist, Lisa Riley receive an enthusiastic welcome from the audience on opening night at the Mayflower, Southampton.
Strictly Confidential is a dance/musical extravaganza which promises to take the audience into the backgrounds of the stars, live on stage, giving personal insight into what led them to their Strictly adventures, telling their stories through music, song and dance routines.
Presenter-actress Lisa Riley is no stranger to TV of course (she's best known for Emmerdale and You've Been Framed). This story is presented like a glamorous fairy tale, with Lisa as a sort of Cinderella figure. The message is about breaking body myths. And as "I Am What I Am" rings out through the auditorium, Lisa not only enjoys dancing every bit as much as the professionals, but looks good doing it.
Her story moves us to tears at times, but her bubbly ‘whole lot of Emmerdale story in five minutes' is great fun.
It does feel a bit like the Lisa Riley show at times, but all the principals share life stories and background gossip, some beautifully enacted in dance - others dashing along at breathtaking speed.
The variety of ballroom and Latin dance is perfect and a great reminder of the enormous skill at the heart of the Strictly phenomenon. Whilst charmed by such faultless performances, for me, a second female professional lead would enhance this entertaining show.
The higlight of the evening are the brilliant, all singing-all dancing musicians. The fabulous singer/percussionist, Rietta Austin, has a truly amazing range of vocals. Her performance is pure delight.
Strictly Confidential is aimed squarely at fans of the series, but there is still plenty of reason to see the show, even if you're not a fan. Watching the statuesque Ian and Natalie gliding across the stage is mesmerising. But it is Artem – always the ladies man- who steals the show. Every graceful turn and every sensual look is perfect passion!
Alongside the stars is a corps of young, but very proficient dancers. Perhaps the next generation of Strictly professionals in waiting?
- Vera Newsham