Posted by Tony Flynn on 19th April 2011 at 02:59 PM
Review: Midnight Tango – The Lowry, Salford
Reviewer: Peter Jacobs
The Public Reviews Rating: Four and a half out of Five.
Midnight Tango is the first theatrical show by leading UK and former World Argentine Tango Show champions – and one of the most likeable professional couples on Strictly Come Dancing – Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone. They have assembled a large cast of international tango artists and created a showcase for their particular ballroom specialism – and the one that seems to best exist outside that strange, rather artificial world of ballroom, the Argentine tango.
The first thing that strikes you is the tremendous set by Morgan Large: an impressive and solidly authentic recreation of a Buenos Aires bar. Slowly the cast are assembled, first the middle-aged bar owners, neatly played for subtle laughs by actors Tricia Deighton and Teddy Kempner; then the couples arrive, pick tables, order drinks and start to dance. Some tango shows choose to tell ‘the story of tango’; others, like this, are scenes from a Buenos Aires bar, usually in that vague romantic period around the early-middle twentieth century – the men in suits and ties with braces and trilbys, the women in smart day separates or cocktail dresses. This is all very nicely established, creating interesting tableaux and with competent tango dancing but this is very much Vincent and Flavia’s show and proceedings brighten up considerably when the two stars finally make their entrance. Literally brighten, as although the lighting design by James Whiteside is moodily atmospheric and effective throughout, it is only Vincent and Flavia who get the benefit of key lights.
Although Vincent and Flavia have choreographed the entire show they have noticeably kept the best and most spectacular choreography for themselves. The group and other solo tango work is good but the dancing only really sparkles when the two stars are involved, either together, as part of the larger group or with other partners as the tale of love interrupted and diverted plays out. This could be a weakness of the show but for the fact that Vincent and Flavia are really good. Technically impressive, individually charismatic, their starring role is no TV fluke. They fully deserve to be the centre of the show. Vincent’s suit is noticeably the sharpest of the men and Flavia’s dresses are that bit shorter, more revealing and sexier than the other women – and she has one more costume change, but that fits their characters too. They are beautiful and glamorous and in love.
Despite the inevitable format of songs and set piece dances, the show has a narrative running throughout: two parallel love stories of youth and middle age. Act I sets the scene effectively – although I personally could have done with a few fewer comic touches – but Act II really ignites. Threads are pulled together and there is a real sense of drama and the show manages to deliver all the passion, heat, joy and sexiness that you hope and expect, the set, cast, lighting and special effects – the full production – gelling to create an ending that is emotionally effective and satisfying, after some stunning duets by Vincent and Flavia and some dazzling footwork by the ensemble. Argentine tango manages to combine technical complexity and flair with an expressiveness and ability to tell a story that makes it the most satisfying dance to come from the ballroom.
The music by Tango Siempre, featuring Argentinean singer Guillermo Rozenthuler (with one touchingly effective song by Tricia Deighton) is beautifully performed live and seamlessly integrated into the show.
The great thing about Midnight Tango is that they have not created a Strictly spin-off show to capitalise on Vincent and Flavia’s TV fame. They have done their utmost to create an authentic Argentine tango show. Strictly may have given them the opportunity, a bigger audience and a bigger budget but Vincent and Flavia are very good at this. Argentinean tango is a popular show format because it has a very complete and evocative background and setting and a wealth of beautiful and distinctive music of its own (although it could be argued that other tango shows benefit from the new-found ballroom audience created by Strictly). But Midnight Tango is a good tango show.
Public Reviews click here
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