Baz Luhrmann’s first film Strictly Ballroom comes to life in this colossal stage adaptation, with all the same lines and songs Australia has come to love.
The leads are impressive but somewhat forgettable. Thomas Lacey is a strong dancer but his voice isn’t incredibly strong. Phoebe Panaretos is brilliant as nerdy but passionate Fran with a remarkable array of singing and dancing skills. But the supporting characters are the highlights, with Heather Mitchell excellent as Scott’s mother Shirley, and Robert Grubb and Bob Baines as the villainous Les and Bobby.
With Oscar winner Catherine Martin responsible for costumes and set design, the room explodes with colour and makes the world seem duller after leaving. The show has plenty of sparkle and sequins but lacks enough emotional depth to satisfy a fan who’s after more than just a jukebox musical.
Despite blending old favourites ‘Love Is In The Air’ and ‘Time After Time’ with newly written songs from Sia Furler and Eddie Perfect, the show seems to suffer a musical identity crisis.
Unlike most directors, Luhrmann is in full control of this glitzy adaptation which is why the final product feels disappointing. But even with the lack of dancing in the aisles, there’s something about Baz that will leave you silently humming and convinced you had a good time.
3 and 1/5 out of 5 stars.
Originally published in BULL Magazine, April 27, 2014.
Watch the trailer for Strictly Ballroom below: