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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

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Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

The Will Young show: Strictly Ballroom @TeamPiccadilly

Love is in the air in Strictly Ballroom, currently playing at The Piccadilly Theatre. It’s the musical based on Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 movie about a boy daring to dance his own steps in the cut-throat world of amateur ballroom dancing. The movie was full of irony and light-heartedness with its corny follow your heart and ugly duckling storylines. Here the musicalisation hits this message over your head as if you’re watching the fall of communism.
Jonny Labey and Zizi Strallen in the lead roles as the unlikely dance couple give the show style and pizazz. He’s a rebel, she’s an ugly duckling. There is also a thrilling paso doble dance sequence to close the first act. They even get to sing two lines and sound terriffic.

But the show is superfluously narrated by Will Young. He’s also the band leader singing all the songs. While this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, here it gives the impression you’re watching the Will Young musical. And often his light vocals are lost in the theatre. The decision to over-amplify everything also makes it sound as if you’re listening to karaoke.

The show builds up to the competition finale. Will the hero follow his heart and dance his own steps? It’s hard to tell since it’s all squandered by a cheesy finale that doesn’t even involve Labey and Strallen. They just stand at the back watching. Perplexed like the rest of us. In the end you might be on your feet dancing. But not sure why.

Directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie, Strictly Ballroom is at the Piccadilly Theatre until 20 October 

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