vincent and flavia

Vincent Simone, who is recovering from injury, and Flavia Cacace. Pictures Manuel Harlan

Tango Morderno

The New Alexandra Theatre


OK, so Pasquale and Leonel and Flavia might not have the same ring as Vincent and his long time partner, but, no matter what, the show must go on, and go on it did in some style.

Vincent Simone, injured his back an hour before the show opened a week ago at the Bristol Hippodrome, leaving dance partner Flavia Cacace creating some solo moves on the hoof, not easy with a foundation of ballroom, but it kept the show on the road that night so the audience would at least have something to watch at the end of their journey to the theatre.

With Vincent’s recovery taking longer than envisaged, producer Adam Siegel has turned to the bench bringing on subs in the shape of Italian Pasquale La Rocca and Argentinian Leonel Di Cocco; the only good news for Vincent being that it took two dancers to replace him.

Pasquale, all suave with easy Latin charm and Leonel, a swift-footed, precise dancer who looks as if he has just stepped out of a Milonga, fill the breach in fine style. Both highly skilled dancers, they must have sweated blood to get complex routines to performance standard in such a short time.

There were a couple of moments with just the merest hint of hesitation or a glance at Flavia’s feet for guidance but no one could complain about the standard of dancing.

But when a star goes missing some of the sparkle goes with them, and the chemistry between Flavia and her partner, whether Leonel in a tango or Pasquale in a contemporary dance, was understandably missing, the dancing could not be faulted, but, on stage, they were . . .  just partners.

On stage Vincent and Flavia dance as one, with passion and emotion, a sensual display – and that’s something than needs years, and history, to build up, not a few days of rehearsal.


Flavia, centre, with singer Rebecca Lisewski, left, and the girls in the ensemble

Vincent also supplies his own charisma, along with familiarity from TV and past shows, so when the pair dance your eyes are drawn to them, yet in Tango Morderno it was as easy to drift up to the singers on the tenement balcony  –  the dancing was there but the magnetism was missing.

That being said, though, as a dance show this does not disappoint. It is the fourth by the pair – that last, final farewell tour, The Last Tango, turning out to be not as final as we thought.

The couple found there was so much new material they could not fit in to that production that they needed another show to showcase it, and, perhaps more relevant, they still enjoy performing.

Whatever the reason, they are back, or half back in this case, with a show that has a theme rather than the strong narrative we had in the previous shows.

The show combines ballroom with Latin and Argentinian tango - that’s the cracked shins version if you get it wrong tango - along with contemporary dance, with the aim, according to the blurb, of finding a modern tango for today.

The running theme though seems to be that in our fast paced, social media driven, uncaring world, finding love is not easy.

The message is spelt out by singer Tom Parsons in poems and prose between songs, written by poet and playwright Richard Marsh.

A wide choice of songs produces an equally wide range of dances from the excellent 10 strong ensemble as well as Flavia and her partner.

We have an up beat number such Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha, which highlight’s our obsession and growing dependence on mobile phone, the raunchy Three Handed Woman, sung by the female singer and dancer Rebecca Lisewski, Percy Sledge’s R&B classic, When a man loves a woman, along with ballads such as the bittersweet 7 years, Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s A House is not a home, the sad Sam Smith track Lay Me Down and Ewan MacColl’s beautiful love song, The First Time Ever I saw your face, sung by Liewski again.

It was a song which produced a dance from Flavia and Pasquale which was the nearest we got to convincing tender moments, but it is that sort of song, and Flavia is always a delight to watch She makes everything look so natural, so easy and so elegant as she glides around the stage, and let's be honest, she dances with sex appeal to burn.

Director and choreographer Karen Bruce has a cast of talented professional dancers and uses them to the full with some complex and always interesting routines – these are dances, not chorus fillers – each telling their own little story. There is a clever routine to If I were a painting, ending with a . . .  a painting, the idea better than the execution, if one is being picky.

And there is a nice up beat outdoing the neighbours routine which brings in lawn mowers, supermarket trolleys and mop buckets.

The six-piece band hidden behind the scenery at the back produce a powerful sound under musical director Jonathan Taylor, although they did allow Oliver Lewis and his violin out into daylight a couple of times, the first playing tango music as if he had just stepped out of a Buenos Aires waterfront bar from an Orquesta típica, and in the second act he appears as a busker taking on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee.

Lewis held the world record as the fastest violinist playing the piece in 2010, lost the record in 2011 and is awaiting ratification from Guinness World Records after setting a new time of 47 seconds on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the USA, that being about 30 seconds faster than the standard party piece for a talented – and ultra-quick fingered – violinist can manage. Believe me, Oliver is fast.

Morgan Large’s set is a sprawling urban scene with minimal props creating instant scenes, the bar with two lovers on stools was particularly simple and clever, costumes from Vicky Gill are all elegant or contemporary, James Whiteside's lighting adds to each scene and although sound overwhelmed voices at times, a regular problem on first nights in a new theatre, in general Richard Brooker's sound design was well balanced.

The Alex had posted plenty of notices around the theatre with the change in cast but there were still  groans when Flavia came out to explain and apologise.

The audience might have been disappointed but it didn’t show it in enthusiastic cheering an applause at the end, and there were plenty of smiles and no complaints as people left. It might have been Who? and Flavia but it is still an enjoyable show with some fabulous dancing. To 23-09-17

Roger Clarke


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