TANGO MODERNO at Bristol Hippodrome

This review must be read with two provisos. Firstly, I am not a Strictly Come Dancing aficionado and this is my first time at an out and out dance show. Secondly, one of the two principal stars, Vincent Simone, was unfortunately injured and unable to dance at all.  The groans in the full house at the announcement by producer Adam Spiegel were palpable testament to the affection with which Vincent and his long standing dance partner, Flavia Cacace, are held. Vincent even limped on stage with the aid of a walking stick to say hello to his fans, but unfortunately that was all he could do.

But…the show must go on and the audience have the chance of returning for a complimentary ticket for a performance later this week if Vincent recovers.

The show could only suffer from the absence of such a stellar sizzling partnership, but there was just about enough left from the talented bunch of dancers to entertain the expectant hordes. The missing dynamic routines and set pieces would surely have helped the narrative flow with more fluidity and we would have got more passion and flair, but that is for another day.

The production was billed as a ‘Tango for Today’ and it fused elements of Ballroom, Latin, and Argentine tango. Flavia Cacace made frequent appearances, but apart from an opening number had to restrict her routines to solos and she took up the role of Fairy Godmother, sprinkling magic dust on the younger dancers as they searched for romance through a series of tableaus.

The narrative was a little choppy, and often introduced by singer Tom Parsons around the broad theme of ‘oh isn’t it hard for people to find love in a modern world’. There were imaginative and extremely well-choreographed scenes with mobile phones and dating Apps as well as an ingenious glimpse at a kind of ‘First Date’ scenario, However, the audience reserved their biggest reaction for an old fashioned ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ sketch with neighbours competing at cleaning, baking and gardening complete with BBQ tongs, cleaners’ trolleys and lawnmowers.

Some numbers relied too much on the song rather than pure dance and although the set designed by Morgan Large looked great, with hints at an urban environment and a split level gangway made up of window fronts, it only really complimented the story with a clever skit based on ‘If I were a painting’.

The musical choices didn’t overly rely on a modern sound that wouldn’t have sat well with the audience demographic. There was a hint of Ed Sheeran and Michael Buble, but nothing more threatening than that.

Among the dancers George Hodson and Mary Lynn Tiep caught the eye, but they were all great troupers and each one could follow in Vincent and Flavia’s dance steps to TV stardom.

It just needed a bit more excitement, and hopefully when Vincent recovers and dances once more with Flavia Cacace you will know when you’ve been Tangoed.  ★★★☆☆   Bryan Mason   13th September 2017