TANGO MODERNO – Touring ★★★★

In Dance, Musicals, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland, Touring by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

Touring – reviewed at Edinburgh Playhouse
Guest reviewer: Martin Gray

There’s a hitch at Tango Moderno but there are no missteps. Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace are the passionate pair who burned the Strictly floor for years before quitting to take to the road with their own shows. Their trademark tangos – sometimes tempestuous, at others, cool as ice – made them a brand as they toured the UK with a series of unforgettable shows.

Vincent and Flavia. So let’s welcome… and Flavia!

Wot, no Vincent? Sadly not. The twinkly Italian’s only gone and done his back in while performing in this very show. On the opening night of the tour! Flavia apparently takes more fish oil, as she’s here, appearing before curtain up to explain the situation to the audience, and send Vincent’s love to all the ladies.

The disappointment was audible. Those of us who saw him on Strictly sister show It Takes Two earlier this week, when he mentioned his injury if not Edinburgh, were less surprised, but still disappointed. After all, how the heck do you replace a magnetic man like Vincent?

With two men. Dancing to Flavia’s aid were Argentinian Leonel Di Cocco, a trained ballroom, classical and contemporary dancer who’s been a professional tango artist for more than a decade. And Italian Pasquale La Rocca, a pro ballroom and Latin American sensation. ‘One is muscly, one is skinny, it take two guys to replace Vinnie!’

So says the show’s resident troubadour, Tom Parsons, who wanders Morgan Large’s effective set – an urban landscape of today – skilfully delivering a rhyming narration. At first, it’s a little naff, reminiscent of the melodramatic narrator who’s the only bad thing about Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers.

But the more time we spend with the singer, the more I was charmed by his witty, self-deprecating character. And Parsons doesn’t just talk to us, setting the scene. He sings, brilliantly. Whether it’s Rag’n’Bone Man’s I’m Only Human or Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song, Parsons nails it, with the backing of musical director Jonathan Taylor’s six-piece band, unseen behind a bouquet of barbed wire (which is a bit of a shame).

Tom Parsons, Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone. Pic: Manuel Harlan

Sharing the singing is Rebecca Lisewski, who has a big voice and bigger charisma. Her renditions of Louis Jordan’s Three Handed Woman and Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet were delightful, while her teaming with Parsons on Ewan McColl’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was a little slice of heaven.

Oh yes, sorry, the dancing. There was dancing to accompany the music, mostly by a tight troupe of young folk, clad in costumes by Strictly’s Vicky Gill, versatile enough to go from contemporary to ballroom in a breath. Lisewski joins the energetic ensemble occasionally and doesn’t miss a beat, her moves as strong as anyone’s.

Occasionally Flavia and partner appear, maybe halfway through a number, without interacting. That’s because they’re the Cupids of tango, encouraging the singletons to get out there and jolly well meet someone. You can dance alone, a bit of hip hop, say, but it’s not much fun.

The show’s numbers, choreographed by director Karen Bruce with Vincent and Flavia, are always worth watching, whether it’s a humorous beat like the Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha or the more thoughtful A House is Not a Home. Modern life is skilfully conjured up via vignettes involving a Tube trip, cleaning ladies and their men, even a giant Tindr app, all motivating marvellous moves.
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And when Flavia and partner take centre stage for a full-on tango number, such as Pet Nahych Berusek or the Assassin’s Tango, the chills hit the spine; whether she’s partnered by La Rocca or Di Cocco, the moments are mesmerising… the sharp kicks, the tight holds, the fleet feet, the elegant lifts, the sheer intensity – it’s not ‘simply’ dance, it’s pure theatre.

Stepping out from behind the barbed wire, violinist Oliver Lewis steals the show when he demonstrates how he took the world record for fastest performance of Flight of the Bumblebee. That’s his spotlight moment; at other times he’s on the walkway above the set, adding an authentic touch to those dramatic Argentine tangos. Mainly, though, he’s out of view, blending perfectly with the rest of the brilliant band.

Vincent Simone is a star, a tiny titan of the dance floor, who always seemed the bigger personality on Strictly. But you know what? Flavia’s just fine leading a cast solo. I don’t doubt that she’s looking forward to his return from physical rehab, and being an old pro, he’s likely sad to have been unable to perform throughout this tour. But even without 50 per cent of the headliners, Tango Moderno is a terrific toe tapper, an irresistible cocktail of song and dance.

Running time two hours and 35 minutes
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA.
Thursday 23 – Saturday 25 November 2017
Evenings: 7.30pm; Matinee: Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: www.atgtickets.com.

Tango Moderno website: www.tangomoderno.com/.
Facebook: vincentandflavialive.

Tango Moderno on tour 2017/18:

Thu 23 – Sat 25 Nov 2017
Edinburgh
Playhouse
0844 871 7648
Book online

Tue 16 – Sat 20 Jan 2018
Glasgow
Kings Theatre
0844 871 7648
Book online

Tue 23 – Sat 27 Jan 2018
Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 5555
Book online

Mon 29 Jan – Sat 3 Feb 2018
Bath
Theatre Royal
01225 448844
Book online

Tue 6 – Sat 10 Feb 2018
Hull
New Theatre
01482 300 306
Book online

Tue 13 – Sat 17 Feb 2018
Southampton
Mayflower Theatre
02380 711 811
Book online

Mon 26 – Wed 28 Feb 2018
Liverpool
Empire
0844 871 3017
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Thu 1 – Sat 3 Mar 2018
Wimbledon
New Wimbledon Theatre
0115 989 5555
Book online

Mon 5 – Thu 8 Mar 2018
Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020
Book online

Fri 9 – Sat 10 Mar 2018
Stoke-On-Trent
Regent Theatre
0844 871 7649
Book online

Tue 13 – Sat 17 Mar 2018
Cardiff
New Theatre
029 2087 8889
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Tue 20 – Sat 24 Mar 2018
Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 220000
Book online

Tue 27 – Sat 31 Mar 2018
Crawley
The Hawth
01293 553636
Book online

Tue 3 – Sat 7 Apr 2018
Southend – On – Sea
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351135
Book online

Tue 10 – Sat 14 Apr 2018
Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700
Book online

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Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.
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Thom Dibdin on FacebookThom Dibdin on RssThom Dibdin on Twitter
Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.

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