Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Show – Review – Sheffield Arena
By Richard Jones, January 2017
Just before Christmas, BBC Breakfast sports presenter Ore Oduba unexpectedly triumphed in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing, beating hot favourite Danny Mac and Louise Redknapp to lift the trophy. However, it was former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, with his defiant, have-a-go attitude who was arguably the real winner.
The former MP for Morley and Outwood’s wild, wacky and wonderful Gangnam Style routine – which involved him launching himself on to his partner Katya Jones and riding her like a pony – was arguably the most entertaining routine of the entire series. Since then, ‘Glitter Balls’ has gone on to embrace his inner showman and become a national treasure wannabe.
In this latest touring show at Sheffield Arena, he once again takes to the floor like an endearing uncle at a wedding after one too many glasses of wine. Judge Craig Revel Horwood gives him terrible marks – two and four out of ten, and he remains rooted at the bottom of the leaderboard.
However, the entire arena erupts and the standing ovation ensures he cares not one jot. But despite his limelight-stealing appearances, this ‘Strictly’ show is not all about Balls. Finalists Oduba and Karen Clifton, Redknapp and Kevin Clifton, Mac and Oti Mabuse, along with Daisy Lowe and Aljaž Skorjanec, and Lesley Joseph and Gorka Marquez are also in Sheffield competing for the trophy.
Completing the line-up for the group numbers and professional dances are six of this series’ ‘Fab-u-lus’ performers – Giovanni Pernice and Janette Manrara, AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt, Oksana Platero and Neil Jones.
“Homage to Hollywood musicals”
The celebrities and dancers are joined by tour judges Revel Horwood (who also directs the show), Karen Hardy and Len Goodman.
Yes, we haven’t quite seen the last of departing head judge Goodman just yet. He was of course doling out ‘Tens from Len’, while also dancing himself, in top hat and tails.
As has been the case for the last few years, not only are the celebrities and their dance partners competing for the judges’ scores, they are also battling to win votes from the arena audience. It is they who ultimately decide who wins the coveted Glitterball Trophy at the end of each show.
Countryfile presenter Anita Rani, a contestant in 2015, is the host, and can’t resist reminding the Yorkshire crowd she is a lass from ‘God’s Own County’.
From a sheer dancing point of view, Oduba’s stunning showdance, a homage to Hollywood musicals danced to the Gershwins’ ‘I Got Rhythm’ is riveting. Although my favourite routine was Louise and Kevin’s dramatic Paso Doble.
“Highlight is Revel Horwood accepting the Gangnam challenge”
There are also some fantastic group numbers. A tribute to West Side Story, a steamy Argentine Tango to ‘Chicago‘, a 1960s number to Hairspray and a 1930s Hollywood routine with top hats, tails and feather fans. However, the highlight of the show is perhaps Revel Horwood accepting a challenge from Balls to ‘walk the walk’ and have a go at Gangnam himself.
As far as the results on the night go, Louise and her partner, perennial runner-up ‘Kevin from Grimsby’, get the sympathy vote. They walk away with the Glitterball Trophy. This prompts Kevin to say that he wants to change his moniker to ‘Kevin from Sheffield’ in future.
Then, just before the end of the show, news breaks that Strictly Come Dancing has won the National Television Award’s Talent Show category. The TV show is going from strength to strength. The same can be said of this tour, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary with its most entertaining production yet.
It scores a 10 from me, anyway.
Images: David J Hogan – Getty Images