Review: Strictly Gershwin, Hippodrome

16 02 2012

A veritable feast of George and Ira Gershwin’s greatest hits come alive in an unlikely but majestic paring in the English National Ballet’s Strictly Gershwin. In two hours, the music of the Gershwin brothers, who shaped the golden ages of Broadway and Old Hollywood, is interpreted through ballet, tap and tango.

If you don’t know Gershwin, you will soon be educated in the brothers’ legendary repertoire.

Prepare to foot-tap along to classic numbers like Rhapsody in Blue, Someone to Watch Over Me and Summertime.

The staging and choreography of the Derek Deane production achieves a wonderful on-stage symmetry between dancers, creating a real treat for the eye.

Shall we Dance is a breathtaking homage to Fred Astaire, and Begona Cao and James Steeler are absolutely enchanting in the lead roles.

Impressive tap dancers Craig Scott and Paul Robinson matched each other toe for toe and were especially popular with the audience.

An American in Paris started promisingly, evoking all things French to create the hustle of Paris complete with mime artists, artists, onion sellers, nuns and Gendarmes.

But the piece felt a little long and exhausting to watch with a stage creaking at the seams, heading into the interval.

Lady Be Good is a thrilling and rousing tap routine where each step was effortlessly timed by the dozens of dancers with top hat and canes, with Scott and Robinson joined in the lead by commanding Kerry Birkett.

The 50-strong Orchestra of the English National Ballet pay worthy tribute to the great songbook of Gershwin in big band style with extra kick – look out for conductor Gareth Valentine’s own brand of dance moves.

Strictly Gershwin is an intoxicating mix of dance, song and costume that will leave you mesmerised and itching to get up and dance.

Review by Aleisha Scott

Strictly Gershwin is at the Hippodrome until February 18. Click here for more info.


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