Brendan Cole: Show Man – Review – Hull New Theatre
By Karl Hornsey, February 2019
I have a confession to make. I’m a lapsed Strictly Come Dancing fan. Having, along with my wife, watched avidly from about series 5 to series 12, we just gave up. No specific reason, but maybe a little jaded and too much filler in between the dances. The loss of some of the longer-standing professional dancers didn’t help either, and I’m sure thousands thought the same thing last year when Brendan Cole, one of the originals (in fact THE original winner) was unceremoniously ditched from the show.
However, salvation is at hand for those pining for the straight-talking Kiwi, in the form of his latest touring production, simply titled Show Man. And it turns out that is exactly what Brendan Cole is. He can dance (obviously), sing and even play guitar (a little). Add to that the fact that his choreography skills have seen him put on this latest show, incorporating seven fellow dancers, a fantastic band, singers and local choir members, all on a stage at Hull New Theatre that seemed barely large enough to host such a thing. Strictly’s loss is everyone else’s gain it would seem.
Show Man, as the name suggests, takes on a more theatrical theme than Cole’s previous productions, with bigger numbers and as diverse a range of dances as possible, beginning with two songs from the phenomenally popular The Greatest Showman, with Cole decked out as a wanabee Huge Jackman. The scene is set at this point for the evening, with the stage full of talent, the band already demonstrating its range and two wonderful singers, Iain Mackenzie and Nicola Meehan, belting out the songs. The opening also says everything about the type of production Show Man is – namely an ensemble that gives all involved many opportunities to show off their ample talents, whether that be the dancers, singers, musicians, or Cole himself. In fact it’s a credit to him that this show is such a collective, all about the talents coming together to create an evening of wonderful entertainment.
“Array of dancing talent”
Those who have seen his past shows will be familiar with some of the dancers, but the line-up is different this time, with a trio of Italians – Domenico Palmisano, Moreno Porcu and Giorgio Iori – and Liverpool’s Gary Max Wright, lining up for the boys, and Crystal Main, Nancy Xu and Kallyanne Brown for the girls. That array of dancing talent allows for a hugely varied and eclectic programme, from the slow dances such as a waltz to ‘Send in the Clowns’ and an Argentine tango to ‘Roxanne’, to the frenzy of a Charleston to ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ and the cha cha to ‘Forget You’.
With Cole explaining the storyline of the evening and the inspiration behind his thoughts or, as he puts it, a window into what goes on in his mind, the audience can understand so much better what they’re seeing in front of them, and it’s refreshing that he lavishes so much praise on his colleagues. It’s a wonderful touch to involve local singing talent on each stop of the tour, giving the youngsters the experience of a lifetime. While it’s almost unfair to pick out any of the individuals involved, special mention must go to the vocal talents of Iain Mackenzie, who seamlessly transitions from song to song and style to style without any difficulties at all, even demonstrating a fine turn in Spanish for the salsa to the sound of ‘Despacito’.
The show ends with a raucous line dance/jive to ‘Footloose’ and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the audience who would have loved it to have gone on for much, much longer. Strictly fans or not, this is a show that has to be seen.