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Tango Moderno – Bristol Hippodrome REVIEW

Over the years I have been very lucky with the shows I have been to. I have never had a show cancelled or witnessed an injury or big mistake. Alas, last night ended my lucky streak. As the lights went down, on came the producer and I immediately started guessing the bad news he was about to deliver.

Vincent Simone, one half of the night’s star duo limped on stage sporting a grey tracksuit and a walking stick. Following him was his partner in crime Flavia Cacace in a gorgeous flowy dress and heels. The three stand centre stage and apologise profusely for the inconvenience, which, surprisingly, was met with more “awwww”ing than “booooo”ing. They explained as Vincent’s injury has happened so soon it was impossible to cancel the performance and so the show must go on…

Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace star in Tango Moderno Photo by Hugo Glendinning (red dress portrait).jpg

I do feel strange reviewing the performance I saw as it definitely was far from what they had set out to do but I shall try my best.

It is difficult to assume what would have been put before me had everybody been in good health but I will try to assess what I saw as face value and take educated guesses at what was originally planned. Firstly I would like to congratulate everybody involved in the last minute re-jig and I doff my hat particularly to the ensemble of dancers. The group of 10 had to step up from their backing dancer role to form a cohesive structure for the performance to revolve around. The five couples were what kept the evening on it’s feet and the audience from leaving the auditorium feeling disappointed. In a way, it was really pleasant to give the spotlight to those who would normally be outshone, and they all were really quite fantastic. Each and every dancer had strength in technique and stage presence with special mentions going to Michael Carroll and Hannah Millichamp for drawing my eye for all the right reasons.

I, of course, felt sorry for Vincent as he seemed in a lot of pain and disheartened. However I equally felt for Flavia who had to make do with coming on a few times and attempting to dance on her own. Flailing her arms around whilst doing a lonely quickstep in front of her practised ensemble looked as awkward as I’m sure she felt. The show was also cut short as I can imagine a number of dances were simple duos solely displaying Vincent and Flavia’s talent.

Tango Moderno rehearsal-70 (c) Joe Twigg

The story was lost on me, which the producer had warned us about pre-show. My interpretation was that Vincent and Flavia were telling the stories of the five couples from the ensemble and maybe helping them along the way. This could be entirely wrong as it was very loosely conveyed, but with a show like this the storyline usually ends up taking a back seat to the dancing anyway. The narrator and singer Tom Parsons tried to carry through the production with some thought provoking and humorous spoken word poems but sadly his voice let him down. Rebecca Lisweski’s gorgeous soulful sound made up for his strained solos.

The production was a lot more modern that I expected, with hip hop and contemporary styles playing a big part and references made to Tinder and gender stereotypes. I imagine that this would have been balanced by the classic and timeless duets by Vincent and Flavia to create a more well rounded evening, but even without this major component it was still a high caliber show.

So the evening didn’t go as planned, but I still enjoyed what I did see and I know that this show has incredible potential. The cast and crew pulled it all off without it’s leading man so I can only imagine how good this production is when it’s in full swing. One thing we all learnt though is that it really does take two to tango…

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