“ The live show of Strictly Come Dancing / Various locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland „
My best Christmas present by far was a complete surprise. My husband got 2 tickets to see Strictly Come Dancing, which was on the 18th of January at Sheffield motorpoint Arena. The venue has hosted strictly for 2 nights, and the show is now moving around the country for the next 4 weeks. (For details see www.strictlycomedancinglive.com as it shows details about the show and the locations they will be visiting.) I am a fan of the Strictly Come Dancing Series on BBC1. While not an expert on the dances, I do appreciate watching the dances and all of the fantastic costumes and make up. I watched all of this series, which was series 8, however I didn't watch the 1st few series. Most of the contestants that were in this show were from series 8, although there was also Ricky Whittle from last years series, and Colin Jackson who appeared 5 years ago alongside the host of the evening, Zoe Ball. I went expecting a good night out, and I was not disappointed. The format of the show is very similar to the the television series. It was in 2 halves so there was chance to watch each couple dance twice, and once the first dance was over there was chance for the audience to participate in the voting procedure. (I'll go through that more in a while.) The Arena was set up like the TV set but on a larger scale. The stage end had 2 stair cases for the grand entrance of the dancers, and the middle part of the stage was occupied by the Alan Rogers band and 4 professional singers. 2 male and 2 female. There was a star cloth hung and there were glittery archways around the set. On the floor of the Arena, in front of the band was a stage for the Judges to sit at. Three of the judges from the series were there. Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tolioni. Hanging from the truss in the ceiling was a large glitter ball surrounded by 6 smaller glitter balls, and also in the corners of the set were 4 chandeliers. Appearance wise, this matched well with the set from the TV show. In the middle of the Arena was a stage that was shaped a bit like a cloud. This was raised from the floor, and most of the dancing took place upon this stage. Around the floor, there were cameras filming the proceedings, no doubt for the DVD of the show, but also being shown on 2 big screens at the stage end of the Arena so you could see peoples faces when they were dancing, but more importantly when the judges were giving their feedback and doing their scoring. The show opened with the presenter Zoe Ball walking out in a floor length black sparkly dress with a thigh high split. She did a dance with 4 male dancers to 'Let's Get the Party Started' by Dame Shirley Bassey, which she did indeed. I wasn't aware Zoe had previously danced on the show so I really enjoyed this section. She then breathlessly went to introduce the judges and the dancers in the show. The first half was the most like the TV show. Each couple performed one dance, and before their entrance there was a video shown of them on screen in rehearsals. This format worked really well as by the time the film clip ended the couple would be in position to start dancing straight away. The first couple out was Colin Jackson and Orla Jordan. They did a wiggly Cha Cha on the main stage. They were followed by Tina O Brien and Jared Merrilo doing the cheeky Charlston from the TV series. Ricky Whittle and Natalie Lowe then wowed me by dancing a quickstep that was fast paced and occupied the whole of the floor and not just the stage. This then seemed to knock up the excitement for me, although the disadvantage of a live show meant that Natalie and Ricky clashed heads, although luckily both were fine and able to joke about it. Patsy Kensit and Robin Windsor were the next out with a saucy Salsa which got Bruno going demonstating correct hip action. As pointed out to him by Jimi Mystery, he did this in front of an audience of 7000 people with his flies undone. An absolutely hilarious moment as he was left speechless and obviously embarassed. Jimi Mystery performed with Kristina Rihanoff (not Flavia as in the show, but using routines from the show. ) Their Foxtrot fell a little flat with the judges as the 1st ballroom number after the quicker paced dances previously seen. The last 3 acts were the 3 finalists from the TV show. First out was Pamela Stephenson and James Jordan performing their Viennese Waltz routine. Pamela looked like an angel from our view right at the top. All you could see was her long golden locks swinging out behind her. Matt Baker then entered with Aliona Vilani doing a steamy Tango. Their dancing was very high standard, and Matt wooed the ladies of the audience. Kara Tointon was last out, and the one I was looking forward to seeing the most as she had been my favourite from week one. Kara and Artem Chigvintsev danced a passionate Pasodoble to the theme from Phantom of the Opera. Although technically brilliant, Kara was ranked 2nd to me, with Matt having more wow factor on stage. Act one was over, and you could now text the name of your favourite to help them win the show. You could vote until the end of the 2nd performance of each couple. Act 2 had more content and seemed to go a lot quicker as there were no videos to slow down the show. The couples appeared in the same order for their 2nd dance. After the act was opened by a group number from all the couples, we were then on with the show. Colin did a quickstep, Tina repeated her Foxtrot from the show. Tina's dancing was notably inproved from the show after her fitness was compromised by having Chicken pox and missing a week. Ricky did a very sexy Tango, and Patsy looked gorgeous doing a vienesse walts. Jimi performed the Pasodoble first seen in the Halloween special episode. It combined elements of the Michael Jackson Thriller routine and this worked well in the Arena. Pamela did an exclusive Argentinian Tango which was the dance they never got to dance in the final of the show. I am really glad they got chance to do it. Pamela's stamina is amazing at 60 years old. Matt and Kara both chose their final dance from the Blackpool show. Matt's samba was really high energy and got the crowd going, while Kara's American Smooth again was technically brilliant and excellent to watch. The votes then needed to be counted so we were in for a special treat. A performance to really steal the show. Anne Widdecombe stumbled onto the stage to the sounds of Celine Dionne's Titanic track, and instead of finding Anton, she bumps into Craig Revel Horwood. The pair then danced around the stage with Anne's usual grace, and Craig cheerfully lifted and spun her in the manner we have become accustomed to with much hilarity. It really was the best part of the whole night. The show was very impressive. There were very few errors, and those that happened were joked about and the show quickly carried on. The judges were a bit more Risque than on the telly, and were rather good natured. I will struggle to see them in the same way again, particularly Craig who danced very well and actually seemed to have a lot of fun. The tickets we got were of the cheaper variety for the show at £45 each. Although this seems a lot, it actually was money very well spent as we had a fantastic night out. The music was outstanding, the show was very professional, and we were certainly well entertained. The line up was a good mix of old stars and new, and they all looked like they were having the time of their lives. I would without doubt try to go to next years tour, and I think I might even be persuaded to splash out on a more expensive seat to be closer to the action. The highlight of the year so far, and it will be tough to beat.