GLITTER balls, chandeliers, sequins, spray tans and sparkle were the order of the day when the kitsch-fest that is the Strictly Come Dancing live tour tangoed its way into Sheffield Arena.
The live version of the much-loved BBC TV dance show was just the tonic to brighten up a dark January night and provided a delicious evening of over-the-top camp, comic escapism.
It’s the fourth year the professional dancers and their celebrity partners have jumped aboard the Strictly tour bus and taken to the road and they didn’t disappoint.
It’s taken time to perfect but with a smaller stage, concentrating the action in the centre of the dance floor and an incredible live band, this production fizzed and cackled with energy to the delight of 7,000-strong audiences on Monday and Tuesday.
The show kicked off with ex-contestant and compere Zoe Ball joining the dancers to rekindle her Strictly experience in an impossibly slinky black number.
The celebrities – Countryfile presenter Matt Baker, Hollyoaks actor Ricky Whittle, athlete Colin Jackson, actor Jimi Mistry, actresses Patsy Kensit and Tina O’Brien, comedienne-turned-psychologist Pamela Stephenson and 2010 champion and ex-EastEnder Kara Tointon – and their professional partners performed two dances which were subject to the usual ‘constructive criticism’ and scoring punctuated with comedy panto banter from the judges.
The audience was in stitches when it was pointed out the most excitable of the judges, Bruno Tonioli, had walked on to the stage with his flies undone.
Highlights included Matt Baker’s seamless string of back flips at the climax of an exhaustingly energetic samba which helped him and partner Aliona Vilani lift the glitterball.
Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev, who met on the show and are now romantically involved, performed a sensuous, steamy Paso Double and a mesmerising American Smooth, while ‘glamorous granny’ Pamela Stephenson’s hot Argentine tango and stunning waltz with partner James Jordan put women half her age to shame.
Ricky Whittle and Natalie Lowe’s Argentine tango was also sexually charged, leaving head judge Len Goodman quipping: “That was so hot Ricky I’m surprised you only took your hat off…”
Love her or hate her, you’ve got to hand it to Anne Widdecombe – or Widdy as she became known in the last series.
She might dance like a sack of spuds but the 63-year-old former MP, a “very insistent final entrant”, brought the house down and earned herself a standing ovation for the show’s climax.
Dressed in green leggings and a sparkly green frock The Right Honorable lady, who has bizarrely managed to reinvent herself as a comic actress, took to the stage calling for lost dance partner Anton Du Beke in a recreation of a scene from Titanic before embarking on a hilarious Charleston routine with her nemesis, judge Craig Revel Horwood.
Horwood, who once likened her to a dancing hippo, was left “exhausted” after heaving the former Tory politician – not dissimilar to a big green sparkly toad – around the dance floor and into the air while judge Len Goodman described having to watch her dance again as being like “a recurring nightmare”.
It might not be to everyone’s taste but if you’re a fan of the show this top evening of feelgood family entertainment is not to be missed and you will be sure to leave with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
As Craig RH would say, Fab-u-lous.