Tuesday, 26 February 2019

REVIEW: Rip it Up at the Garrick Theatre

Following the hit success of ‘Rip It Up Dancing Through The 50’s’ back in 2017, this year Strictly Come Dancing heart throbs and favourites Harry Judd, Jay McGuiness, Aston Merrygold and Louis Smith MBE delve into the swinging sixties with their brand new production ‘Rip It Up the 60s!’, currently playing at The Garrick Theatre. 

Being a huge strictly fan myself, I was eager to experience the decade of revolutionary change through the sound and soul of the souring sixties, headlined by our four leading gentlemen. Backed by the exceptional Rip It Up live band, and undeniably talented troupe of backing dancers and vocalists, the four Strictly champions dance and sing to songs from British legends such as The Beatles, The Who and the Bee Gees. Throw in a mix of American superstars such as The Beach Boys, and vocal phenomenon’s Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and Motown icons Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, and you have the soundtrack to this show. A soundtrack that provided an unforgettable and everlasting decade of hits that changed the face of music and world forever. 
Throughout the show, we see an impressive array of chorographical and vocal genres split into themed segments celebrating highlights of what the sixties had to offer. Each section was instantly recognisable, and allowed the audience to reminisce to a legendary era of feel good anthems and heartfelt ballads by some of the words most beloved artists. 

Sadly, this feeling of reminisce was soon cut short, and rapidly became repetitive and underwhelming. Instead of a celebration of the era, the production began to feel more like a showcase of what our four leading gentlemen had learnt during their Strictly journey. While Harry, Jay, Aston and Louis all gave a charming performance, and clearly possess impressive skills within their individual realms, which was showcased extremely nicely during their ‘Mods and Rockers’ section during the opening of Act 2, as a combined quartet delivering a polished tribute through dance, they fell short. This in particular seemed highlighted during elements of ensemble choreography, which at times felt simplified in order to accommodate for cast consistency and cleanliness, which sadly at times also fell short. Credit however must be given to lead female vocalist, Jill Marie Cooper and principal male dancer Adam Paul-Robertson, each of whom lit up the stage with their booming energy, exceptional
skill and clear passion and understanding of the era. 

While this production has extremely appealing elements, and the potential to be a hit success in the heart of London’s West End, on the whole both the show and performance felt extremely dated, disjointed, and unfortunately, underwhelming.

As a touring production around the UK, I can see ‘Rip It Up the 60s!’ selling extremely well, and providing an enjoyable throwback night out for a lot of audiences nationwide, however, as a West End residency, this production falls short. 

Review by Adam Tipping 

Rating: ★★

Seat: F16 Stalls | Price of Ticket: £85
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