With timing that will do the box office no harm at all, the latest show from Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace comes to London for a season perfectly in sync with a new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Add to that the fact that the dynamic duo have announced this will be their final ever theatre show before moving on to new ventures, and it’s an unmissable production for devotees.
And there’s very little here to disappoint. Following Olivier-nominated productions Midnight Tango and Dance ‘Til Dawn, Vincent and Flavia bring all the skill and artistry mastered during a 20-year partnership to a bittersweet story told through dance. Their routines run the gamut from high-energy fun to steamy, passionate and dramatic. Word of warning: don’t leave at the curtain call, the post-bow tango is every bit as breathtaking as we’ve come to expect.
The Last Tango (photos: Manuel Harlan)
The plot sees the ageing George (Teddy Kempner, who will be well known to audiences of previous V&F productions) rummaging through possessions in his attic that stir memories of falling in love back in the 1930s, marriage, children, and the horror of the Second World War.
It’s often a bit saccharine (although with a surprisingly poignant twist in the tail) and Kempner isn’t given a great deal to do, but it provides a perfect canvas for Vincent and Flavia to strut their considerable stuff along with a cracking ensemble, some of whom are veterans of previous V&F tours.
The Strictly connection includes Karen Bruce, choreographer for both the TV show and Strictly tour, on directing and co-choreographer duties; and Vicky Gill, Strictly’s costume designer, in charge of wardrobe.
Matt Smith leads a tight little band and, while the singer in dance shows is often there to do little more than facilitate costume changes, crooner supreme Oliver Darley (another member of the V&F rep company) lifts the show to new heights with captivating performances of songs from the likes of Etta James, Bobby Darin and Van Morrison.
So, great band, great singing and exceptional dancing — pretty much every box ticked for Strictly fans in a show that is a thoroughly entertaining blend of musical theatre and ballroom at its best.
The Last Tango is at the Phoenix Theatre until 3 December