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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Midnight Tango
Aldwych Theatre Winter-Spring 2012; Phoenix Theatre February 2013

This is an all-dance show featuring a couple of TV semi-stars, pausing briefly in London in the middle of a two-year national tour. It will undoubtedly entertain a lot of people looking for an hour or so of pretty dancing, and the fact that it is not especially authentic, only intermittently exciting and never very sexy hardly matters. 

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have been a dance team for seventeen years and have won many championships, but they are best known as two of the staff dancers on TV's Strictly Come Dancing, the professionals who partnered celebrities and made them look good. 

They are supported by some impressive backup dancers, a singer and a couple of actors in an almost uninterrupted string of dances, most of them variations on the tango. 

Until a couple of very showy duets in the second act, the two nominal stars are in fact not all that impressive. It is axiomatic in musicals that the chorus dancers are almost always better than the stars, and in the group numbers Simone and Cacace repeatedly get lost in the crowd, outdanced by those around them. (Hint: in the first act she's the one in the blue dress and he's the only man in a waistcoat; in Act Two you're on your own.) 

They really only come into their own in two showy pieces that I suspect are part of their own repertoire rather than director-choreographer Karen Bruce's work, a slow and sensuous balletic piece that evokes the spirit of the dream ballets of 1940s Broadway musicals and, at long last, a flashy virtuoso tango that plays like a competition entry.

Elsewhere, Karen Bruce's choreography occasionally footnotes Balanchine's Slaughter On Tenth Avenue and Fosse's Cabaret but mainly represents colourful but somewhat homogenised and sexless varieties of tango. It's at its best when Bruce injects touches of wit, as in an opening sequence in which everyone walks, stands and even sits with tango moves.

She can make the tango romantic, comic and even downright wholesome, but seems to have consciously chosen (Don't scare the provincial audiences?) not to make it erotic. 

There is briefly a plot of sorts, about an interloping dancer who tries to steal Flavia from Vincent, and actors Teddy Kempner and Tricia Deighton are droll as the mostly silent bickering owners of the tavern in which the action is set. 

But mainly it's a little more than an hour of always pretty and only occasionally more than just pretty dancing.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -   Midnight Tango - Aldwych 2012