Tango Moderno – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Ginger Bailey, April 2018
The evening was unseasonably cold as we shivered, nice and early, into The Grand to escape the miserable weather. My plus one was looking forward to the show Tango Moderno staring Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone. She specifically asked if she could accompany me to it. I had no idea she enjoyed tango or dancing but she tells me she loves Strictly Come Dancing, on which Flavia and Vincent used to be dancers.
Looking at the poster advertising the show, I vaguely recognise them and their names, and of course have heard of ‘Strictly’, even if I am yet to watch an episode. I’ve seen clips and, if I happen to be channel surfing on a Saturday evening, seen a few dance routines over the years. Thank goodness for Netflix, though that can be frustrating with all the flicking. What an apt name for it. Anyway, to prevent me launching into a rant about Saturday night TV and the functionality of Netflix, I’ll wander back to Tuesday evening. At least it was nice and warm in The Grand and a glass of red awaited me. Nothing to complain about there.
I wondered what the show would entail. Plenty of dancing of course, but would it all be tango; would there be a story and singing. I was hoping for a high energy show and to be entertained. Because as the actor Toast says on Toast of London, ‘I didn’t become an actor to entertain people!’ Which must be true. But I’m pretty sure dancers and singers did. Before I move on, if you haven’t watched Toast of London I highly recommend it. It’s on Netflix. As for Tango Moderno, we wait in anticipation as to what we will see. The programme gives little away, other than there are several dancers, a singer or two and a few musicians. I find out this is the last leg of their tour and I wonder if the performers will be tired and ready for home.
The set reminds me of when I saw West Side Story here, with its brick walls and apartment windows with stairs up to a second floor. I spy a drum set and various other musical instruments sitting towards the back of the stage and in part view of the audience. The lighting is atmospheric with its warm glow lighting the stage.
What transpires is a glorious number of dance routines set to various different songs or differing styles and tempo. Something for everyone here. No need to worry too much if a song and dance isn’t to your tastes, after a few minutes or so it ends and we are on to the next one.
There are a few songs and routines that stick out for me. One involves the amazing singer and dancer Rebecca Lisewski where she played a lusty and noisy neighbour. Quite over-the-top and it made me giggle. Another was the routine involving the Cha, Cha, Cha – great fun to watch. The main singer, Tom Parsons, does an excellent job of keeping the show flowing between the routines by reciting poems, written by the talented Richard Marsh, and they do a grand job of moving on the theme of the show, which is that of finding love.
My friend, clearly a ballroom dancing connoisseur due to years of studying “Strictly”, explains the different routines we have so far seen – Tango, Argentine Tango, Waltz and so on. I’m guessing we saw most of the ballroom dances. I managed to note the difference between the Tango and the Argentine Tango, but of course only because my friend told me what they were called.
For those that don’t know, in the Argentine routine, each dancing pair kick up a leg between their partner’s legs. One small slip and the man might not be dancing for the rest of the night. Special mention should be given to the violinist, Oliver Lewis, he is given centre stage for one routine which involved frenzied violin moves. What fun. I am so impressed I look him up and am not surprised to read that he is the 2010 Guinness World’s Fastest Violinist, smashing the world record live on BBC One’s Blue Peter. The man is fast with those fingers.
To my novice eye, nobody makes a wrong move up there on set. The singing is superb. The musicians are marvellous. The dancers delightful. The choreography suits each song. We are treated to numerous costume changes and no hold-ups between songs. The production is slick and everybody up on stage looks like they are having fun, which is a delight to see. No tired performers here!
We are most certainly entertained. But am I a Strictly convert? Nope. Despite moaning about it, I must enjoy all that flicking.
images: Manuel Harlan