Feathers fly as Strictly Ballroom the Musical prepares for UK stage

strictly-ballroom-the-musical-cast-members-courtney-mae-briggs-and-james-bennett-photo-by-anthony-roblingThe West Yorkshire Playhouse has revealed production details of its much-anticipated UK premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical two months ahead of its opening on 30 November.

Co-produced by West Yorkshire Playhouse and international producers Global Creatures, the romantic comedy set within the sequin-studded world of competitive ballroom dancing is due to play the Leeds venue until 21 January 2017.

No expense has been spared to ensure the production re-creates the lavish style of Luhrmann’s much-loved film and the original costumes designed by the director’s long-time collaborator, multi-Oscar winner Catherine Martin.

The costume department has used more than 745 metres of coloured ostrich feathers – over twice the height of London’s towering The Shard – to create the eye-catching costumes.

The show features over 208,000 hand-crafted diamantes and each of the £5,000 wigs worn by cast members will take five days of continuous knotting and will need to be redressed daily and washed weekly.

Keeping up with Olivier Award winner Drew McOnie’s energetic and intricate choreography will mean the cast will consume 600 litres of water a week. An extra energy boost will be available on stage with the part of ‘sangria’ played by the rather less potent cranberry juice.

The feel-good story of the rule-breaking dancer and the shy outsider who transforms into the perfect partner first hit the stage as a student play. The play was then transformed into a film by Lurmann and designer Martin before the duo working with Terry Johnson, who joined the team to adapt the original book, to return to the stage in its musical incarnation in Sydney in 2014.

Featuring a mixture of songs from the film’s original soundtrack, the show – which also features new songs from current chart stars Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect – also played seasons in Melbourne and Brisbane last year.

Commenting on the show’s UK debut Luhrmann said: “One of the great joys for us was to take a story that began as a play when I was at drama school and return to our homeland in Australia to birth the musical stage version with all our original collaborators. Now that it’s been born, Strictly Ballroom must go on. It’s wonderful that one of the new bright lights of the English theatre (McOnie), who himself was a fan of the film at a young age, is taking the show to realise it in a new way, for new audiences and oversee its continued growth.”

The Leeds cast includes Broadway star Sam Lips (Wicked) making his UK debut alongside Gemma Sutton (The Go-Between) with Tamsin Carroll (Miss Saigon), Stephen Matthews (The Lion King), Julius D’Silva (Made in Dagenham), Richard Grieve (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), Eve Polycarpou (In The Heights) and Charlotte Gooch (Dirty Dancing).

Angela Thomas


Readers may also be interested in:

Strictly Ballroom the Musical – Sydney Lyric Theatre – Review


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