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Dancing Queen

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Any show which brings a new audience to a theatre and finishes with people dancing in the aisles cannot be all bad, and riding on the back of the Mamma Mia! Dancing Queen does just that. By combining the hits of ABBA and the 70s, this production tries to produce the songs in a cabaret style but unfortunately often misses the mark.

There are several areas where the whole idea becomes unstuck and the main one is that the chorus are often out of time. Director and Choreographer Alan Harding has not drilled his young dancers to the precision needed and one number in Act One, which includes chairs in the routine, looks particularly clumsy. The boy dancers fair slightly better than the girls, but they all appear either under rehearsed or seemingly tired as if at the end of a long tour.

There is nothing better than seeing a chorus so well drilled that they work together and move in unison, such as in the recent tours of Footloose and Flashdance, on this score unfortunately, Dancing Queen is sadly lacking.

There are four main singers, Jess Parker, Suzanne Carley, Nick Wyschna and Simon Schofield, who take us through all the hits. But it is only in the dying minutes that the four actually have any interaction with each other and it would have been nice to have heard more from them, so their characters came through and there was interaction with the audience.  

The show seems to take itself so seriously in Act1, as the pre-recorded music belts out the melodies and we either have the chorus performing a dance routine or the lead singers taking us through another hit. But after thirty minutes of ABBA, which finishes with Voulez Vous, the pace not so much as slows, but literally crashes to a halt as the cast change gear and the main singers launch in to  How Deep Is Your Love. Then we pick up the pace again with a 70s melody before a Village People melody brings down the curtain on Act 1. All this could work if the production values were high unfortunately that is not the case.

Act 2 takes us back to the Glam Rock of the 70s before we change back in to ABBA , then a Motown  Melody before ABBA again closes the show . But luckily Act 2 does not take itself so seriously and this time the audience are ready to party at any cost.
I feel if we swapped the show around so Act2 was actually the opening and stuck to all 70s song then Act2 was all ABBA songs, the show would have worked better.

There are plenty of costume changes for the cast throughout and with the music pulsating in your ears there is little else you can do but tap your feet and clap along in submission. But this is really a missed opportunity, as the concept is very good, but to work it needs to be slick and polished and Dancing Queen, in its present shape is not.

John Dixon


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