REVIEWS  - SHOW MAN 2020

From the spectacular opening Greatest Showman number we “Came Alive” with awe and wonder throughout Brendan Cole’s mesmerising Show Man. What doesn’t come across on Strictly, was on display in abundance in the eclectic mix of superb dance numbers; Brendan is very much a team player and very much at the top of his game.

He had an amazing live band, seven sensational dancers (and a local Stagecoach choir at time) on stage with him too, and though he’d directed, produced and choreographed the entire show, there was no big “I am” as he took on the role of narrator, but an extremely charismatic performer, only too glad to frequently tell the audience how fabulous his team were. 

Everyone looked to be having a ball on stage; dedicated rehearsal time made it all look deceptively easy.

The lighting and costumes were an integral part of the show, and along with awesome numbers such as “Send In The Clowns”, “Roxanne” and “Live and let Die” to name just a few, helped to create the magical atmosphere in the beautiful Grand Opera surroundings.

I was blown away by Ian Mackenzie’s and Jenna Lee James ‘singing – wow, such powerful voices, and polished professional performances – Brendan had obviously hand-picked his performers carefully, giving us nothing but the best.

His respect and affection for his dancing partner Crystal came across loud and clear too. 

Time just flew, yet Brendan still made time for a bit of good hearted banter with the audience, even allowing a photo of Anton to be held up in the audience by an ardent fan, and was full of witty quick quips flying as fast as his dancing feet.

We also saw the softer side of Brendan too as he told us the story of the poignant song Cinderella, written by Stephen Curtis Chapman written from the point of view of Cinderella’s father; for me it was one of the highlights of the show with beautiful lyrics and expressive ballroom dancing – Cinderella certainly did get to the Ball.

Then sadly, the final number was upon us, but what an invigorating number to end on, Footloose – yee ha!

Let’s hope Brendan Cole Show Man returns to York in the not too distant future.

REVIEWS  - SHOW MAN 2019


Strictly Come Dancing Star, Brendan Cole, has begun his 5th UK tour: Show Man! Including tunes from the new hit musical, The Greatest Showman, Cole’s performance follows the birth of show business taking us right back to old fashioned theatre. With a live band, 7 stunning dancers, a local choir and, Brendan Cole himself; this show is an absolute sensation. Directed, produced and choreographed and presented by Cole, you might wonder if this man ever sleeps.

Each dance had its own individual and beautiful story written by Cole. This made for an endearing and heartfelt eclectic mix, from love stories, to the profound adventure of his daughter’s childhood. This dance, Cinderella’s Story, was perfect. Cole’s performance was magical and I was able to resonate as he reminded me of my own father. The slow ballroom was poignant and when a young girl, Anya, stepped on stage to dance with Cole I felt the hairs on my arms stand up. In his performance it became clear how much this performance meant to him, and I felt honoured to watch the story unfold.

Cole presented the show, whilst also performing in it, which may seem impossible. But, actually, it made for a more organic performance and allowed him the chance to tell the stories behind a few of his favourite dances. It also meant he ran on a few times still doing up his tie, but this was some how charming. The show was by no means flawless, but it felt natural and Cole’s commentary was charismatic and his cheesy humour was particularly alluring. Along with his chiselled physique, I would have been surprised if there was anyone in the audience who wasn’t in love with him by the end of the show. This explains the close knit relationships of the cast which really brought the show together. Ever member of that cast had a love for performing and a love for each other.

Undoubtedly, the costumes in ‘Show Man’ were striking. The three female dancers held magnificent material wings dotted with firefly lights, extending their arms and allowing your eyes to follow their graceful flow and movement. The use of drapes was a gorgeous touch and added mystery to the performance. And my favourite part, the capes. The capes used in ‘Live And Let Die’ were truly magic. Their strong movement and swirl captivated the audience and increased the passion and desire of the piece.

The choreography of the show was faultless. Every dance fitted the song and every song fitted the story. And, the dancers brought Cole’s dream alive, creating romance, delicacy and beauty. Watching the men lifting the women above their heads and beginning to turn, I became lost in the heat, mesmerised. The elegance of every arm and every tilt was exquisite and each movement was deliberate, without exception.

Whether you are a 'Strictly' fan or not, this performance is brilliant and I can promise you, you will leave the theatre with a buzz! You simply must see Show Man!

There’s just something about the man. The man that is Brendan Cole. The man appeals to many generations if my fellow audience members at Sage Gateshead are anything to go by. The man is here for one night only.

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for (woah)……..

 

Festooned in ringmaster attire equaling the most well-known ringmaster of this decade, Hugh Jackman, incase an introduction was needed, this marvelous showman was ready to give a performance to get the audience talking.

BC’s ability to dance, choreograph, sing (I know, who knew?) play the guitar (in all honesty the guitar was in hand but the I’m not sure if I could hear Mr. Cole play as the rest of the music was loud around it) and surround himself with talented musicians, singers, dancers and in Newcastle childhood talent from Chimney Sweep Theatre Company is a skill in itself. This is the first show of BC’s that I have seen and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect but an early spoiler…… It was so much better than I could have imaged.

The stage isn’t huge at Sage Gateshead but the compact staging worked well. Stripped back and simplistic but not lacking in any way.

Although this is a Cole production he was not frightened to let the rest of the team shine. Before I get onto the dancers can I talk about Iain Mackenzie please? Thank you. His voice, arr man it was so good. Even from row P you could see the playful twinkle in this man’s eyes. No matter what song he brought it to life from the first note. 

Lets not forget to mention the talent of Jenna Lee James, at first I didn’t really enjoy the vocals but when Jenna’s tone deepened so did my liking and I appreciated the way she goofed around with the whole team. 

The team of dancers was made of four men; Domenico, Moreno, Giorgio and Gary and three women; Crystal, Nancy and Kallyanne. All of which were extremely talented and everyone’s talents could be seen throughout the eclectic array of dances. The dancing was not flawless, and timing was off in parts, but this somehow added to the beauty of the production.  Costumes, oh my. They were a thing of beauty.  From wings with fairy lights, sequins, carnival styling, tassels and of course Brendan’s ‘cool’ pink slacks, white vest and braces. I also loved the dinner jackets, the suave tails, knee high riding boots. I could swerve the cowboy boots and the final costumes though.

Did I forget to mention that BC also provided the narrative throughout the performance which was such a great touch, it hooked the audience in even more. We all loved him coming into the audience and we all not so secretly wanted to be the lady that received not one but to kissed from Mr. Charisma himself. At one point he managed to pull a very tall drape down the majority of the office wouldn’t have known but he decided to balance the scene and pulled another drape down. He could have kept the fact hidden but he fessed up at the end of the number. This is what makes BC so likeable. 

I’ve made my dad, Hubby to be and daughter all listen to one of the songs I’ve never heard before, Cinderella and it will be my daddy/daughter wedding dance if we ever get around to it (engaged since 2007). Having a young girl on stage depicting the song brought the narrative to life for me strangely I would have loved the adult woman dancer to be wearing a matching dress to the little girl to link them even more closely. Brendan made this number even more poignant after telling us how his wife’s eyes filled with tears when she first listened to the song.

The show ends with Footloose and even though BC kept mentioning it was the last number for some reason it didn’t feel like it was the end, the song and dancing were good, and I love the film, but this was to me my least favorite performance and I wanted more.  

Brendan you are a perfect storyteller, through dance, music and words and what you have created is fabulous. Your consummate charisma is effortless and endearing and I think you’ve managed to fill the hearts even more of us Northern lads and lasses.

 

We are lucky in the North East as Showman is on at Darlington Hippodrome on Sunday 17March. Mmmm very tempted to buy tickets. Even if I don’t manage to get tickets I’m going to go and buy a programme as I left the one I bought accidentally at Sage and I did try to buy another at the end. 

To end how you began in the words of P.T Barnum, “The noblest art is that of making others happy” and you Mr. Cole have made me very happy.