Simply Ballroom Sunday October 4, 2008
By Glen Creason
Sending yours truly to review a ballroom dancing show might be like asking a vegan to write about a steak joint but my taste for such cavorting was certainly increased tenfold by this afternoon of terpsichorean merriment. I may have failed at cotillion but I have watched an episode or two of “Dancing With the Stars” alongside my Mom and I can tell you that this version is vastly superior to most of what you see on television. Each of the pairs of “Simply Ballroom” are champions in their own right. The speed, dexterity and unreal stamina of these young dancers is quite incredible. I should not fail to mention the beauty of the young ladies, the dazzle of the spectacular costumes and the athleticism of the choreography that sometimes defied gravity. “Simply Ballroom” has its roots in Great Britain and they do not spare the pounds sterling in the production. There are seven pairs of dancers, two very talented singing and dancing hosts and the grand living legend lady Debbie Reynolds holding the whole thing together.
The original purpose of this show was the give exposure to these elegant dancers and the art form of the many shades of ballroom dancing. All of this falls under a rather large umbrella that includes everything from Strauss waltzes to the Latin Hustle. The stage is filled with color and movement that keeps your head spinning and your toes tapping. The afternoon was ably hosted by English crooner Sam Kane and Nicole Funicello who broke up the dance numbers with pretty good versions of dance-related standards like “Shall We Dance,” Who’s Got the Last Laugh Now,” “The Continental,” Singing In the Rain” and “The Time of My Life.” The music flowed as the young dancers performed the meringue, quickstep, cha cha cha, swing, black bottom, Charleston, quick trot, fox trot, tango, salsa, samba, rumba, jitterbug and more. With each turn on the stage the dancers and hosts showed up in new, colorful costumes and never seemed to have a hair or sequin out of place. More contemporary stuff followed, even “She Bangs,” “Time After Time,” and a ring a ding ding “One More for the Road.” Of course, many in the large crowd came to hear their old pal Miss Debbie and she did not disappoint with copious ribaldry and stories from her colorful past. Some of her material was as old as her 1952 debut in “Singing In the Rain” but it worked well enough to get huge laughs from the crowd that may have remembered her as the sweet faced girl who sang “Tammy” back when gas was twenty-five cents a gallon and bailouts were something fighter pilots did in the big war. While the ballroom artistry filled the stage it was the old pro who held the show together like her own flawless makeup.