Dance ‘Til Dawn

Feb 6 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Captivating

Edinburgh Playhouse: Thurs 5 – Sat 7 Feb 2014

Stunning dancing, melodic interludes and brazen humour combine in Dance ‘Til Dawn. It is a package that defies any rational analysis, but is so bursting with skill and chutzpah that the result is impossible to dislike.

It can best be described as a combination of dance show, jukebox musical and pantomime, designed around the talents of diminutive Strictly Come Dancing tango specialists Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace.

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace. Photo: Manuel Harlan

A paper-thin plot, concerning blackmail and murder in a Hollywood Golden Age film set, is really only there to give the evening a semblance of structure, with just two performers having any dialogue to speak of.

Private investigator Tommy Dubrowski (Teddy Kempner) is a rumbustious, convincing narrator figure who constantly breaks the fourth wall while cracking cheesy jokes and even dropping his trousers. Abbie Osmon is Lana, the assuredly comic femme fatale who also provides some cheerfully OTT vocal numbers.

The bulk of the singing, however, is provided by the impressive Oliver Darley, backed by a spirited live band under the direction of Patrick Hurley. Darley is billed simply as ‘the Voice’ and has no dramatic role in the story other than performing a grab-bag of songs, many of which date from considerably later than the show’s supposed 1940 setting.

While the songs provide emotional resonance, they mostly do not advance the plot, being simply the vehicles for the dance set pieces. These, of course, are what the show is all about, and there can be no complaints about the number or variety of them.

guileless comic charm

Vincent and Flavia play to their strengths throughout – they are never required to sing or even speak in their roles as a couple of Hollywood hoofers, but they both have a great deal of presence. Simone, in particular, has something of the guileless comic charm of a Chaplin or a Harpo that seems well suited to the period on display.

Teddy Kempner and Abbie Osmon. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Teddy Kempner and Abbie Osmon. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Their connection and chemistry is obvious – the moments when they dance with other partners, while still impressive, are not nearly as enjoyable. What really impresses, however, is their versatility.

When the full-blown Argentine tango arrives it is spine-tingling, but a routine to Duke Ellington’s I’m Beginning To See The Light, with its tinges of Fred and Ginger, is just as enjoyable, while a slow, romantic duet to Mi Mancherai is extremely affecting. Their energy, commitment and flowing lines across a bewildering collection of dance styles is what really makes the performance extraordinary.

Vincent and Flavia are also credited as choreographers alongside director Karen Bruce, and deserve further credit for keeping everything fresh and making sure that crisp ensemble work backs up the principals. Production values are high throughout, with Vicky Gill’s stylish and evocative costumes particularly noteworthy.

Bruce ensures that the production never lets up for long enough for anyone to start questioning what is actually going on. Despite the immense enjoyment to be had, there are a couple of quibbles – it can get just a little too frothy, and the self-referential, pantomimish quips lose a little impact through repetition. This can easily be excused, however, in a show that so obviously relishes its own ludicrousness, and when it is all at the service of such breathtaking spectacle.

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (including interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA
Thursday 5 – Saturday 7 February 2015
Evenings at 7.30 pm, Saturday matinee at 2.30 pm
Full details and tickets on the Playhouse website:

Dance ‘Til Dawn on tour:
5 Feb – 7 Feb Edinburgh
0844 871 7627 Book online
9 Feb – 14 Feb Birmingham
0844 871 3011 Book online
17 Feb – 21 Feb Sunderland
0844 871 3022 Book online
23 Feb – 28 Feb Cardiff
New Theatre
029 2087 8889 Book online
2 Mar – 7 Mar Woking
New Victoria
0844 871 7645 Book online
16 Mar – 21 Mar Southend
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351135 Book online
24 Mar – 28 Mar Bristol
0844 871 3012 Book online
30 Mar – 4 Apr Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700 Book online
7 Apr – 11 Apr Glasgow
Kings Theatre
0844 871 7627 Book online
13 Apr – 18 Apr Milton Keynes
0844 871 7652 Book online
21 Apr – 25 Apr Salford
Lowry Theatre
0843 208 6000 Book online
27 Apr – 2 May Hull
New Theatre
01482 300300 Book online
Flavia Cacace and the ensemble. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Flavia Cacace and the ensemble. Photo: Manuel Harlan


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