Here are five key talking points from the Musicals Week quarter-final:
Nobody got 40s… but Debbie McGee was “absolutely seamless”
Yet again, Craig Revel Horwood couldn’t put his feelings about Debbie McGee into words. Following on from the time he worshipped at her feet, Strictly’s grumpiest judge responded to Debbie’s dance with nothing but a feline purr. So it was purr-ty surprising he didn’t pull out the ten paddle like all the other judges!
If Debbie was disappointed not to get another perfect score, she didn’t show it – in fact she looked like the cat who got the cream. With a score of 39 she came joint top of the leaderboard after a gorgeous American Smooth to the song Memory from the musical Cats.
Darcey Bussell called it “stunning”, praising her fluidity and an “exquisite” spinning lift with Giovanni. “It was absolutely seamless,” she announced, while Shirley Ballas agreed: “I think it’s going to be a memory etched into everyone’s hearts for a long time… I felt every moment with you.”
Davood Ghadami and Gemma Atkinson are in the danger zone
Davood struck the wrong note with his Phantom of the Opera Argentine Tango, which had lots of picture-perfect poses but a lack of finesse.”It wasn’t slick enough,” said Bruno Tonioli. “There were moments there when you were a bit unsteady.”
Gemma and Aljaz opened the show with a Quickstep to Hello Dolly! but also struggled to find their feet – and even though Gemma is a soap actress, it was actually her characterisation that was lacking. “I just felt it could have have 20% more in the acting skills,” said Shirley, while Craig said it looked “a little bit laboured and messy”.
Alexandra Burke’s Mary Poppins went down like a spoonful of sugar
“Practically perfect in every way,” Bruno declared. Alexandra Burke and her partner Gorka Marquez came joint top of the leaderboard with their Mary Poppins Charleston to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, earning 39 points – still, frustratingly for them, not yet a perfect score!
Oh, but poor Gorka. Craig commented to X Factor winner Alexandra, “You had better swivel than Gorka in that actually,” and you could see what he meant. That’s not the nicest thing for a pro dancer to hear and he looked a little upset as he tried to play it off on the balcony with Claudia.
Joe McFadden pulled off a very unusual Samba
You have to hand it to Katya Jones and Joe McFadden. On paper, it looked like a Samba to Money, Money from the musical Cabaret would surely be a disaster – but somehow they actually made it work and come second on the leaderboard with 37.
“Well I was all ready for this samba to fail,” Craig admitted. “But you know what it did more than that. It was incredible.” Heaping praise on the characterisation, he added: “I loved it.”
Shirley Ballas also admitted she’d been nervous on their behalf. “You took a challenging dance,” she said, “but you married everything together, your acting skills were off the charts.”
Mollie King and AJ Pritchard got hearts beating with a romantic Rumba
What with all the rumours flying around about Mollie King and AJ Pritchard (for the record: they’re apparently not together) this sure was an interesting one to watch. “Oh yes! I could feel the fireworks myself, I’ll tell you that,” Bruno declared.
After a few disappointing weeks, Mollie and AJ scored 31 with their Rumba to Hopelessly Devoted To You from the musical Grease. It was romantic rather than sexy – but it worked.
“I was not expecting your ability to translate such wonderful emotion into such a quality motion,” Bruno said, while Shirley added: “I thought you embraced the character of Sandy and Danny, I absolutely believed your love story.” The only issue? A “full blown” illegal lift which Craig wasn’t happy about at all.
Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday 9th December at 6.45pm on BBC1