Bristol Hippodrome theatre review: The Last Tango

Vivienne Kennedy reviews The Last Tango, playing at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 6th February

Fans of BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing soon took Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace to their hearts when they made their show debut in series four, way back in 2006, and it has been an absolute joy for me and many others to watch them perform at Bristol Hippodrome on a regular basis since 2011. They toured with Midnight Tango that year and again in 2012, and then with Dance ‘Til Dawn in 2014 & 15. Now they’re back and ominously the show is entitled The Last Tango.

The pair have joined forces once more with director and co-choreographer Karen Bruce to produce a stunning show jam-packed with good music and fabulous dances. There is a simple narrative, a love story prompted by memories as an elderly widower sorts through the treasures in his attic while preparing to leave the family home for the last time. It’s sweet and allows them to showcase a wide variety of dance styles in a way that flows perfectly.

Vincent and Flavia are former World Argentine Tango Show champions (2005 and 2006) but were also the UK Professional Ten Dance champions from 2002 to 2006 and UK Ballroom champions for several years too. In other words, in terms of Latin and Ballroom, there isn’t much they can’t do and their choreography for this show demonstrates that very well; there’s even some Flamenco thrown into the mix.

They are supported by eight dancers, a superb singer (Matthew Gent), and a live band, led by Musical Director Steve Geere. Teddy Kempner, a stalwart of all three shows, plays the old man (basically senior Vincent). As always, his comic timing is spot on but he can produce moments of poignancy when needed too. Credit must also go to Morgan Large, James Whiteside and Vicky Gill for the set, lighting and costumes respectively; they have made the show look beautiful and in Vicky’s case evoked some serious frock envy.

With around 30 pieces of music there were many, many highlights, including an up-tempo ensemble routine set in the post-war era, which included Jump, Jive An’ Wail. Of course it was Vincent and Flavia’s duets that everyone wanted to see and they didn’t disappoint for a moment – there remains an incredible chemistry between the two dancers.

The Last Tango, which came after a final rumba and the first set of bows, was stunning; there is no other word for it…it needs no other words. There was never any doubt that a full standing ovation would follow (even though they don’t currently seem quite as common at Bristol Hippodrome as they have been in recent years).

It’s full on stuff and after dancing together for more than 20 years nobody would deny Vincent and Flavia a break…but I can’t help hoping that The Last Tango is followed in a couple of years by Oh OK, Just One More, because I really don’t want last night to be the last time I see these two dance.

The Last Tango plays at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 6th February. If you love dance, try your hardest to get a ticket.

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Photo: Manuel Harlan

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