Saturday, 15 October 2011

Somebody to Lobb

Broadway Week: 15th October 2011

Good evening, everybody, and welcome to Strictly Come Dancing's Broadway Special! Before we begin, let me point out two things:

1) I am a seasoned reality television watcher and a fan of musical theatre, and thus I feel I can safely point out that at least one song used on the show tonight will not be and will have never featured on "Broadway". I can also safely point out that probably nobody will care about this apart from me. [I'm so glad I didn't have to be the one to say it. - Steve]

2) On red-button commentary with Future Head Judge Karen Hardy tonight is Henry Winkler. That's right, bitches, THE FONZ is on comms with KAREN FRICKIN' HARDY. There is possibly no way this could get more awesome. And thus I will be recapping their commentary; maybe at the expense of the dances. Ah well. [How dare you disrespect the SANCTITY OF DAHNCE? - Len Goodman]

On with the show!

Last weekend, the Strictly stars "lived life to the full", with Nancy drunk, Rory shaking his tits, and Russell being hilariously gay. This weekend, the 13 couples will be "giving their regards - and then some" to Broadway. And Craig and Len imitate Statler and Waldorf. [I can't believe they didn't do the "Bohohohoho!" bit. That's the best part of any Statler and Waldorf impression. - Steve] I like that the show can't decide if Len is supposed to be a "mean" judge or not. Apparently he is tonight. Yeah, well, we'll see.


We open with a pro dance to One from A Chorus Line (the film version of which starred Alyson Reed, aka Ms Darbus from High School Musical, fact fans). The attempted Fosse-esque choreography is surprisingly sloppy, with the hats at all kinds of angles. I do appreciate that they've brought in the mirrors, as per the show, though. And then the celebrities all wander on, and Jason is giving it some big-time show-girl face. Audley seems to have misplaced his hat. DON'T POP THE HEAD, CASSIE! /Chorus Line joke

Right. Let's get on with it. Here are Bruce and Tess, who looks surprisingly normal in a long black dress with a lace insert in the bodice, which looks like something from the costume cupboard at Chicago. Bruce fucks up the autocue, as is habit, and then we welcome the stars of our show: Russell and Flavia; Lulu and Brendan; Rory and Erin; Chelsee and Pasha; Dan and Katya; Holly and Artem; Audley and Natalie; Harry and Aliona; Anita (who's introduced as "actress AND leading lady") and Robin; Robbie and Ola; Nancy and Anton; Alex and James; and Jason and Kristina.

Holly and Artem get us under way tonight. Last week, Holly felt calm before the show and so she had fun. She says she must sell her performance, and will use Jason as inspiration to get her game face on. This week they're doing a dance from Chicago, and Artem is putting Holly in a cage. He finds this exciting. "If she doesn't do the step right, she will have to remain in jail," he says. Later, he explains, "People think that I am rude. I am not rude. I am just Russian." Fair enough.

So they're tangoing to the Cell Block Tango, and I very much enjoy the mirror-work they do together while she's in the cage. For some reason she has a Sally Bowles wig on, but as I've found with reality TV shows, they seem to think Chicago and Cabaret are interchangeable. [I thought it was Dora The Explorer, myself. - Steve] Some good storytelling on show here, with the routine seeming to end with the murder of Artem. Holly could do with straightening her leg more in her high kicks, but I suppose I have been spoilt by the fact that the West End Velmas can get their legs up to their shoulders. Look, here's my friend Tiffany Graves as Velma with the cast of Chicago and the Strictly pros back in 2008. CUTLER ALERT!

Len says it was a great start and a great dance. Alesha says that Chicago is one of her favourite shows and then asks the casting directors why they still have not offered her the role of Roxie like was rumoured three years ago. Bruno wants to be a criminal and join Holly in jail. Craig liked the storytelling but would have liked cleaner and sharper lines, which makes a tango interesting.

Holly bounces up the stairs and Tess asks ridiculous questions before calling her "Roxie...for today". Oh, Tess. I think we can be fairly sure that whether or not Holly purports to despise musicals, we will be seeing her in black chiffon at the Garrick very soon. Scores - 7, 8, 7, 8 for a total of 30.

Dan and Katya are up next. He looks very much as if he's about to kiss Katya's hair, but he thinks better of it. They were happy with last week's performance, lumpestuous though it may have been. Dan makes a joke about Craig making up words and losing credibility thereof, which is OK, and then he says that Craig has no credibility, which is not. Dan is worried about doing acting. Lovely, I think we're all a bit worried about that.

Future Head Judge Karen and Henry Winkler begin their commentary by pointing out that calling out the judges is not a great idea. Dan and Katya are dancing the Viennese waltz to Somebody To Love (from the non-Broadway musical We Will Rock You), and his posture is awful. The Fonz suggests he should try to have more fun and not worry about what's being expected of him.

Alesha says that Dan looks comfortable in hold. I disagree. A lot. Bruno name-drops Freddie Mercury. Craig moans about it being awkward and not making the transitions between in hold and not. Len says that Dan is TALL. Thanks, Len! Scores - Craig 5, Len 7, Alesha 6 and Bruno 6 for a total of 24.

Anita and Robin next. She was disappointed with the barking-mad salsa last week - "like a liquorice allsort on acid", she says. This week they are jiving to a song from Hairspray, so the Olivier Award-winning Leanne Jones, London's first Tracy Turnblad, comes into rehearsal, hugs Anita and gives out various items of merchandise.

Future Head Judge Karen is excited for this routine. Henry is excited about the props and Robin's hair. They Can't Stop The Beat, but they can stop being synchronised in their side-by-side work, stolen shamelessly from the stage choreography. Karen reckons this is sharp, but it looks sloppy to me. [I'm with you: on the basis of the last two weeks, I think Anita's going to be another of those older ladies who's good at ballroom but struggles in Latin, because she just can't keep up with the tempo of this song. Also, it doesn't help that this was the music Austin Healey used, and his was awesome. - Steve] Karen and Henry begin to dance, and then they clap. Totally want them to dance a routine. They'd be better than Nancy and Anton.

Bruno and Craig both concur that technically this is a bit loose, but the character is great. Len mugs for audience applause by saying it's fun, entertaining and energetic. Alesha then crosses the line into utterly useless by saying that people at home wouldn't notice or care that Anita didn't point her toe. Maybe not, Alesha, WHICH IS WHY THE JUDGES ARE SUPPOSED TO. Idiot. Scores - Craig 6, the rest 7 for a total of 27.

A brief interlude as Bruce says hello to singer Jack Jones, and then it is time for Alex and James. He bitches about Alex's nerves. Do you know what might make her less nervous? Not being electrocuted in rehearsal. Or alternatively shoved on stage at the Novello to dance at the interval of Crazy For You. Weird.

They're Viennese waltzing to Memory. Presumably they are taking out the odd time-changes...oh, maybe not. Strange music. Alex has arm-hankies, her head looks good, and she and James are both beaming. It's a fairly basic, unambitious routine, performed very well. The Fonz is happy that they are a good-looking couple, and then verifies with Karen that couples can get as many as 40 points.

Craig points out that it wasn't a very daring routine, but he loved it. Len says that it was simple and simply beautiful. Alesha, as is her wont, says that Alex looks lovely. Bruno says something about a magical bird. Alex says something self-deprecating about Bambi, and James reminds us how wonderful he is. Straight 8s for a total of 32.

Next are Rory and Erin. Last week they went wrong and Craig was "flamboyantly right" in likening Rory to a rat on a sticky strip. Rory says he is a chameleon, but he will try to be a calmer one. He then does an impression of Erin before Lionel Blair marches in to rehearsal. I LOVE Lionel Blair. He was awesome in that series with Liz Smith, Dickie Bird and Derek Jameson.

They're doing a quickstep to Top Hat, White Tie and Tails, which means we'll get a "Fred and Ginge!" reference from Len. I should point out here that Top Hat is not a Broadway show, though. Rory has a hat and cane, both of which are very hard to work with, as Gareth Gates will tell us. There's a nice little Charleston section, which Future Head Judge Karen enjoys. Rory's mouth hangs open unattractively at some point, but he is definitely getting the character. All the judges seem quite surprised that this is quite a nifty little routine, and Alesha declares the quickstep Rory's dance. Well, that's got him screwed for the rest of the series, then. Scores - Craig 7 and the others 8 for a total of 31.

Lulu and Brendan! Last week Lulu remembered her routine and adopted a supercilious look. This week she keeps forgetting things and cries at Brendan about being hopeless. Surprisingly, he does not lose his temper, and just tells her, "Nobody is expecting you to be brilliant at the moment." And then he makes her wear an Andrew Lloyd Webber mask.

This is because they are doing the rumba to All I Ask Of You from Phantom of the Opera. Brendan is wearing a cape, despite not being in a paso, and Lulu is wearing a black and white drapey minidress. There's a little too much arm-flinging for my tastes, and I am distracted by the fact that the singers are destroying the song. There's a lift. Are lifts in rumbas allowed now? I'm genuinely confused. Future Head Judge Karen and the Fonz are loving the performance, mostly because Henry seemed to be a fan of Lulu's in the Sixties.

Alesha praises the storytelling and says that Lulu is elegant. Bruno fails to pronounce "ingenue" and liked Lulu's lyrical movement. Craig points out that the lift was illegal. Brendan tries to defend it and says that Craig would have done the same. Craig says he would have stuck to the rules. Brendan concludes, "Feel free to penalise us." Don't worry. He will. Len says you have to break rules to make a routine complete. Len, you are a tool. You're supposed to be the HEAD JUDGE. [I note with some degree of scorn that Len did not feel this way for either of Kara's American Smooths. - Steve] Scores - Craig 5, Len 7, Alesha 7 and Bruno 7 for a total of 26.

Nancy and Anton now. Last week Nancy was pissed and Anton choreographed a shit routine. This week they are doing a tango to a song from Nine and Nancy keeps kicking Anton with her stilettos. He says that he will not take her ideas on board because they are rubbish. Can't be as rubbish as yours, Du Beke. Of course, the routine is to Be Italian. Although she is in character, Nancy's movements are not sharp enough - "She's on Broadway, but on the avenue as opposed to the stage. And I mean that in the nicest way," says the Fonz - and once they're in hold, Anton steers her around the floor until the final bars when Nancy almost falls over. It's not as bad as last week, though.

Bruno calls her a tempestuous temptress and then waves his legs in the air - "It actually looked like a tango!" Craig says that it was plodding and only looked decent when Nancy was thrown into position. Len says that anything would have been an improvement, but "lots of style, but no substance." Alesha liked the intro and storytelling but not a great deal else, it seems. In the Tess Circle, Anton kisses Nancy, she kisses him back, and then they slap each other. Scores - Craig 4, Len 5, Alesha 5 and Bruno 6 for a total of 20. Anton says Nancy's choreography were the good bits. Weirdly, I believe that. Deranged and drunk as she is.

Audley and Natalie, huzzah! Last week, he had a groove going but still ended up in the bottom two. This week, they are quickstepping to Too Darn Hot from Kiss Me Kate, and thus Natalie takes him to a hot bikram yoga studio to rehearse. That is all. [I love Natalie and her oddly literal mind. - Steve]

On to the floor! We learn that the Fonz had a picture taken with Audley and says he looked like a lapdog next to the giant boxer - "he's the size of an apartment building!" he decides. Audley's footwork isn't quite quick enough, perhaps, but naturally Natalie has choreographed a great routine, so it's not glaringly obvious. Future Head Judge Karen says the technique isn't perfect but they have perfect body contact. The Fonz begins to flirt with Karen, and after a bit of teasing ("Of course you can hug me! You're THE FONZ!") he then kisses her. At this point I no longer care about Strictly. I just want Karen Hardy and Henry Winkler to talk and flirt for two hours. Maybe they can be Alesha and Matt's next-door neighbours in the sitcom My Two Nans. [Let's hope that when Aliona gets fired next year, Karen can come back and dance with The Fonz. - Steve]

Craig likes the atmosphere and style, Len says from the waist down there needs some work, Alesha likes Audley's attitude but not his feet, Bruno says that Audley's feet are like surfboards. Scores - Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 6 and Bruno 7 for a total of 24. Audley says he worked really hard this week. Natalie nods in pleased fashion.

Robbie and Ola next. Last week was one of the best night's of Robbie's life; Ola was worried he was going to start crying. Then he gets a bit teary when his kids come into rehearsal, and then he whines about how hard he has to work. Soundtracked to "Big Girls Don't Cry". Really.

They're tangoing to Gimme Gimme Gimme, and even though Robbie Savage is hugely unattractive to me, the special Ola magic has had an effect and this is quite a sexy routine. Future Head Judge Karen and Henry point out that his rotations are relatively slow, which means that detracts from the dynamic of the routine. Robbie has a great tango face on with some strong movements. And then Robbie sits on a chair while Ola prances around him and drapes herself over him. Move copyright Ola Jordan, every series of Strictly ever. [Special mention goes to the bit where he picked up the chair and just wafted it about a bit. That was some seriously sub-Dancing On Ice shit right there. - Steve]

Len says it was full of attack and aggression, and Robbie must work and get over his childish whining (I paraphrase). Alesha says there were bundles of attitude and passion. Bruno starts to sing 'Mamma Mia'. Craig does not appreciate this, but he did appreciate the routine. Scores - Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 8 and Bruno 8 for a total of 30.

Now, Russell and Flavia. Russell is a gay. Just in case you didn't know. GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY. [I'd better write that down. - Steve] Last week he was "high queen of the dance floor" and in his element, apparently, as he salsaed to Dancing Queen. This week he is foxtrotting to Don't Rain on my Parade, so he and Flavia walk arm in arm around the West End before wandering through the stage door at the Garrick. Trespassers.

This week Flavia has at least tried to choreograph a proper routine for him. Unlike some. Future Head Judge Karen is pleasantly surprised by the fact that they're in hold so much, but it's a fairly plodding kind of dance and Russell's legs are clumpy. Russell is singing along, because he likes Barbra Streisand. Because he is GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. There's a hat-related glitch at the end (it's not like Gareth Gates didn't warn you, Russell), and Henry Winkler is mortified on their behalf.

Alesha says Russell is her guilty pleasure. Patronising bitch. [To be fair, the entire show has been patronising Russell since minute one; it feels unsporting to single Alesha out. - Steve] Bruno likens Russell to blazing sunshine. Craig suggests a little less Barbra, and a little more Rambo. Len says "dickie" and everybody laughs. Because Russell is GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Russell tells Tess he tried to "play it butch...but it never works." Everyone laughs some more, because he is joining in the comedy! He is a cuddly pet gay! Scores - Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 7 and Bruno 8 for a total of 28. Seriously, fuck right off.

Jason and Kristina! They were top last week and Jason LOVED it. This week he takes Kristina to the Palace Theatre to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert, he drags up, and she declares that she has never seen anything as camp as that. *too many jokes* *must avoid them all*

They're tangoing to I Will Survive. I was going to say they're lucky Priscilla has JUST opened on Broadway, but clearly nobody gives a fuck about the theme week, we might as well be on The X Factor for the amount that anyone's obeying the rules. There's a bizarre bit at the chorus where they dance in front of the judges in a camp interlude and Bruno goes mad. Jason's mouth looks pursed and ugly (possibly a tango face gone wrong), which the Fonz is very upset by, expressing a wish for a director to pick him up on that.

Bruno obviously thought it was fantastic; Craig felt it was STU-PEN-DOUSSSSS. Len says Jason keeps delivering, and Alesha praises Kristina's choreography. Maybe none of them noticed the weird faces. Jason does the humble thing, thanking the audience and the brilliance of his partner. Scores - straight 9s for 36.

Chelsee and Pasha now. Last week, Chelsee's legs felt like jelly, and she got too excited, she just couldn't hide it, etcetera. This week, Chelsee's gran comes to training and dances with Pasha, who is adorable, as we all concur. [It's basically all I can do to refrain from throwing my underwear at the screen whenever Pasha's on this week. - Steve] We see little of Chelsee's rehearsal.

They are cha-chaing to Beggin' from Jersey Boys. Pasha has a Jersey Boys blazer on. He's so cute. I'd like this couple much more if Chelsee wasn't in it. It's energetic, but a bit messy. Future Head Judge Karen likes Chelsee's footwork; Henry thinks it is impressive. Karen criticises Chelsee's bouncing; Henry says he is less bothered about the amount of bouncing on display. Oh, the Fonz.

Craig liked the timing, energy and spirit, but thought it was hit and miss, and a little too disco. Len says more attention to detail is needed (Pasha nods at this) but he likes that she gives it everything. Alesha says Chelsee sells a dance, but she needs to tighten it all up. Bruno advises her to focus on the positive. Scores - Craig 6, Len 8, Alesha 8 and Bruno 8 for a total of 30.

Finally, Harry and Aliona. Last week his McFly chums came to cheer him on and were distracting to him. This week, he is jiving to Greased Lightning, and still bears a grudge about not playing a T-Bird in the school play. [*can totally relate* - Steve] Aliona takes him to dance in a garage. There is no cling film in evidence. [On an entirely shallow note, I would like to thank the editors for that close-up of Harry's thighs in tight jeans. - Steve]

Harry is shirtless. Oh, Harry, shameless. Future Head Judge Karen says she does not care about Danny Zuko because she is sitting next to the Fonz. Henry says Harry has everything but has to give more than he is. The routine begins with some jive content and then they just kind of skip around the floor for a bit. More interestingly, Henry says he has had a wonderful evening with Karen and then kisses her some more. Who cares about Aliona's sucky choreography? [I think there was more jive in their walk down the stairs than there was in this routine. SORT IT OUT, ALIONA. - Steve]

Len and Alesha both point out there was too much messing about, but I think we can be sure that neither will penalise them. Bruno growls at Harry for a bit. Craig says, "Be careful of Bruno in the bar, darling!" Damn those predatory gays. Not like those nice cuddly comedy ones. Like Russell. Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 9 and Bruno 8 for a total of 33.

So Jason is at the top of the leaderboard, with Nancy at the bottom. Deja vu, anyone? Tess declares the phone lines open and the crowd goes wild. Get voting, everybody! Somebody will go "tomorrow!"

Results show

This is Strictly Come Dancing, the Broadway results, and we begin with the pros as the singers butcher the epic work of Leonard Bernstein in West Side Story. Also, I'm not sure whoever choreographed this has ever actually seen the show. Or knows what it's about. The groping and leering during Tony and Maria's beautiful first dance is just odd.

Here's Tess, who's been dragged through a hedge backwards in her white dress and has all sorts of furze stuck to her left shoulder. And here's Claudia, in Brendan's discarded cape from last night, telling us that Julianne Hough, Len Goodman and Susan Boyle are all in the studio. Holy hell. [I had a sudden urge to switch over to ITV1 and watch the end of Holding Out For A Hero. - Steve]

Backstage last night, there was dancing and admiration of tattoos; Holly says something I can't decipher; Katya, eating a biscuit, scolds Dan for being nervous; Robin tells us that Anita is SIXTY-TWO; Alex and James imitate the magical bird that Bruno likened their routine to; the judges deem Rory the surprise of the night, and he and Erin call for champagne; Lulu and Brendan give absolutely no fucks about the rules; Nancy makes no comment about Craig's comments; Audley knew he'd trip over his feet at some stage; Robbie believes himself to be a dancer now; Flavia thinks Craig is jealous of Russell; Jason growls; Chelsee will make things "less disco"; and Harry's new plan, a la Gavin Henson, is to flirt with Bruno. Yeah, cos that worked so well for him.

So, some results. Couples who are safe: Audley and Natalie; Alex and James; Rory and Erin; Holly and Artem; Anita and Robin; and Robbie and Ola. However, in the bottom two - Dan and Katya. Oooooooh!

Len says Dan did a good job with a difficult dance because he is TALL and a TENNIS PLAYER and a SPORTSMAN and ALL THOSE THINGS. Claudia does some interrogating - Audley is thankful, and for some reason Rory chooses to pay tribute to the band for "playing all those different songs". But...but...that's their job.

A brief interlude as the cast of Footloose do interpretative dance to a hideous ballad version of Holding Out For A Hero, neither of which any of us really need, and then the theme song as the audience clap along. MAKE IT STOP. [I developed a sudden empathy for Reverend Shaw during this bit. - Steve]

The judges now join Claudia for the needless Len's Lens episode. Len starts to moan about Craig being cross about Lulu and Brendan because the rules are pointless, or something. Idiot. Alesha and Claudia talk over each other about Alex and James. Bruno and Craig bicker about Nancy being awful before Bruno gets up and gyrates about the campness of Jason and Kristina's tango. "BRUNO IN SLOW-MO IS EVEN FUNNIER," cackles Alesha.

Training montages of people air-kissing each other, doing jazz hands, bickering over the spotlight, and exaggerating the need for glitter on costumes, before we get back to some results. More safe couples: Lulu and Brendan; Harry and Aliona; Jason and Kristina; Russell and Flavia. In the bottom two are Nancy and Anton, meaning Chelsee and Pasha are through to next week.
Bruno lies that he is disappointed to see Nancy in the bottom two because there is a sense of anticipation around her performance.

Susan Boyle sings Unchained Melody while men in tuxedos sit on chairs and accompany her as a string orchestra. I know everybody loves Susan Boyle and I'm sure she's lovely but I don't think she sings very well. But this isn't The X Factor and I have to criticise enough ropy singing what with the Strictly vocalists, so I'll just ignore it and concentrate on Vincent and Flavia's routine to the music.

Up with Claudia, Dan makes snippy-sounding comments while Nancy enthuses about the entire experience. They get their Best Bits montage, in which Nancy talks about her forthcoming book. I laugh audibly. And we come to the moment of truth - we are losing Dan and Katya. Well, I love Lovely Dan but he's been a rubbish contestant. Bye then! [At least now we know that Alesha's mum doesn't vote much. - Steve]

A final dance to Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life (from the Broadway musical Spamalot), and we're out. See you next week!


Anna said...

The Fonz is coming into the school I work out his week and I am planning on insisting that he does Strictly next year.

Mandy_C said...

New to commenting, but reading your blog is a quintessential part of Strictly for me. Couldn't agree more about Aliona - she needs the sack! I feel sorry for Harry because I think he could win, but not with Aliona as a partner. Can we arrange some kind of mysterious accident?