All Night Long
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed – 21st January 2018
“overall an enjoyable production … full of harmless good fun …”
As we trudge through the wet and cold towards the end of January, the bright merriment of Christmas certainly feels like a distant memory now. However, Strictly Come Dancing pro-dancer Brendan Cole, has brought a little bit of that festive magic and joy back with his recent dance show extravaganza, All Night Long. Filled with the sequins, feathers, spray tans and cheesy jokes that much of the nation has come to love about Strictly, All Night Long firmly puts you back into a jolly, care free, pre-Christmas mood (sadly minus any mince pies or mulled wine).
Brendan Cole has put together a fine troupe of dancers and musicians, and in his own words calls this production “a celebration of talent”. In truth everyone up on stage is certainly very good at what they do, in particular, the 13-piece band is very strong and singers Iain Mackenzie and Jenna Lee-James are able to sing a real variety of tracks. The dancers shimmy and shake their way through routines choreographed by Brendan himself, featuring most of the different ballroom and Latin dance styles, as well as injecting some more contemporary and gymnastic techniques too, which would not be seen on Strictly.
Brendan does a decent job as the compère between songs and dances, giving little anecdotes about his time on one of the highest watched Saturday night TV shows. Some of the jokes made between himself, Musical Director, Barry Robinson and singer Iain Mackenzie fall short, bordering on being awkward and cringey. However, Brendan does still bring warmth and intimacy to his talks with the audience. The fact that his chat is a little rough around the edges makes it feel more human and off the cusp. Of course where Brendan excels is in his dances, especially within the solo routines with his leading lady, Faye Huddleston, where they are able to make full use of the sparse stage, gliding across its floor, painting wonderful pictures with their bodies. Victoria Burke and Crystal Main were two of the other dancers that notably stood out, bringing character and spunky energy to their performance.
All Night Long certainly caters mainly towards the Strictly Come Dancing viewers, as it gets mentioned so often, but that does not mean to say you cannot enjoy the spectacle of the dancing and the quality of the music if you are not a fan of the show. Sadly, the whole dance show concept that many of the Strictly pros are touring around the country at the moment, is a tricky one to make completely successful. As there is no on going story or theme to link the dances they are just short little vignettes, which on their own are great, but feels disjointed and clunky when you view it as a whole production. All Night Long is trying to be in the style of a variety performance yet there is something that is still lacking – I cannot put my finger on it. It is overall an enjoyable production, full of harmless good fun, where you have to go in prepared and open-minded for a cheesy, charming night of good old-fashioned entertainment.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Shane Finn
All Night Long
On Tour until 31st March