STRICTLY Come Dancing star Kevin Clifton has continued his theatrical odyssey with a starring role in the stage adaption of Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom

I am a huge musical theatre fan after working in a big regional theatre for a number of years and I've seen many, many, shows so I'll be honest - I wasn't really expecting much from Strictly Ballroom, but nevertheless, I took a trip down the M4 to the Bristol Hippodrome to check it out anyway.

The show, directed by infamous Strictly personality Craig Revel Hallwood may share similarities in titles and it might be focused on ballroom dancing, both comparisons it clearly wants the target audience to make - but it's really very different and many won't even realise it's based on a story that predates the hit BBC show by many years. 

The plot is more akin to that of Billy Elliott, Clifton's Scott Hastings is a ballroom dancing championship hopeful, but he keeps getting castigated for making up his own moves. He ends up partnered with former Coronation Street actress Faye Brookes' Fran, a beginner, and together they plan to win the big dance competition by doing it their own way.

Throughout secrets are uncovered, people are betrayed and our protagonist couple slowly start to fall in love - because of course, they do. 

Clifton truly is a special talent who many still write off as a true musical theatre performer simply because he was on a hit dancing show, but his spark and presence really helps. 

Brookes is also great as the awkward and unassuming Fran, particularly in the earlier moments when her enamoured behaviour towards Scott is dialled up to eleven. 

The show also has a strange mix of songs written specifically for it and then well-known hits like Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time and John Paul Young's Love Is In The Air, But reoccurring motif Beautiful Surprise sang by Brookes initially and then a duet with her and Clifton is the standout.

I did struggle with a few things. Set in Australia, everyone is putting on an accent and I felt this did make some of the dialogue difficult to understand. I also felt that a lot of the jokes, particularly the dryer humour, were not given time to stick to their landing. 

But, for a show that I, perhaps wrongly, had low expectations for, I did walk away pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had. It's definitely worth catching if you're able to. 

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