It can be said that not all theatres are created equally. With that, the London Palladium is definitely one of the better ones. There is something about the iconic venue and the rich and varied history it has hosted that makes attending a show there more special than your average night at the theatre. While I have loved every opportunity to sit in any theatre since they reopened last week, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't secretly excited about returning to the Palladium.
Reopening the legendary venue is a new production of Here Come The Boys - a celebration of dance featuring superstars from Strictly Come Dancing. Aljaž Škorjanec, Pasha Kovalev, Graziano di Prima and Robin Windsor all compete to be crowned the King of Dance. They are joined by Strictly pro Nadiya Bychkova with hostig duties led by Strictly finalist Karim Zeroual.
As a very casual fan of Strictly myself, I wondered if the entertainment might be lost on me somewhat. The screams from one corner of the audience every time Graziano so much as breathed or the squeals from the people next to me every time they spotted another Strictly contestant in the audience made me think that perhaps this show was not meant for me. These worries fairly quickly disappeared - whether it was the atmosphere, the production or the joy flying off the stage, I had the time of my life.
A simple stage was elevated by stunning lighting creating a show that remained interesting throughout. Here Come The Boys is an incredibly fast paced show where the audience don't get a chance to catch their breath, let alone the dancers. What followed was a hectic two and a half hours with flawless routine after flawless routine. Performed with incredible precision, the show was split into different sections to create prevent it becoming samey. The four pro boys competed in a series of dance challenges exploring Jive, Samba, Ballroom and Rumba. It's probably best not to dwell too much on how accurate the voting was as each of the four were crowned winners throughout the night.
As well as a variety of dances, the soundtrack featured a versatile mix of recent songs down to the classics (though perhaps 4 Ed Sheeran songs was a bit too much). A highlight of the evening was where the four boys paid tribute to their idols through fantastic song and dance sequences. Graziano paid tribute to his hero Enrique Iglesias, Pasha danced to Bruno Mars while Aljaž chose Justin Timberlake. My highlight was Robin's tribute to the legendary Freddie Mercury - perhaps down to the choice of using 'The Show Must Go On' during his sequence. That song has taken on a new lease of life during the pandemic and become the soundtrack to theatres keeping going, so to hear it played out in the Palladium while a beautiful performance went alongside it was a more emotional moment than had perhaps been intended.
After winning his dance battle, Aljaž delivered the speech of the night, saying "Just by being here we have all won a battle tonight" talking about the challenges to keep theatres going during the pandemic and commenting on the lack of support that has been shown over the past year to artists and everyone in the performing arts industries, ending with "Being here tonight makes it all worth it". An incredibly powerful moment that elevated this dance show to something far more important and special.
Other highlights included a section on couples dances, a terrific James Bond sequence and token girl Nadiya exhaustingly staying on stage for six performances in a row. Co-presenter Karim got his time to shine on stage too with some brilliant street dancing. A modern take on 1940s and 1950s swing complete was jawdropping to watch but was nothing compared to the frantic finale. Ending with an inspiring routine to 'Higher Love', this show was purely fabulous from start to finish.
LWTheatres have led the way when it comes to the safe reopening of theatres. As expected, they were on point from every measure going here, culinating with an usher reminding everyone to keep their masks on and only lower it to drink with the immortal line "A dip for a sip" putting a bit of fun to something that is still unnatural for so many (Let's not get me started on my previous nights experience) and creating a reassuringly safe environment. The fact the capacity of the venue was reduced by half took nothing away from the atmosphere with the excitable audience making it sound like every single seat there was occupied.
Whether you are a diehard fan of Strictly or a more casual viewer like myself, there is something for everyone in Here Come The Boys. A fantastic mix of music and dance, expertly produced and flawlessly presented led to a truly incredible piece of theatre and one of the best nights I have had at the Palladium. If you are looking for a night to remember why going to the theatre is so special, Here Come The Boys is the show for you.
Here Come The Boys plays at the London Palladium until Wednesday 9th June with tickets available at http://lwtheatres.co.uk/