Having stunned TV's Strictly Come Dancing audiences particularly with their breathtaking tango routines since 2005 (indeed, for me this was the highlight that made the show worth watching, along with Sir Brucie and objective judges Craig Revel-Hoarwood and Arlene Phillips before the latter was so disgracefully 'dropped' by the BBC), Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have at last created their own dance theatre show Midnight Tango (co-produced, incidentally, by Arlene Phillips), which has now been touring the country since April.
This week, the tour reached the Cliffs Pavilion theatre in Southend, where we had the great pleasure of catching up with the show last night.
Vincent Simone is undoubtedly the finest, most elegant and graceful 'mover' in the country who has to be the envy of any man, and Flavia Cacace indisputably his female counterpart as well as the sexiest young lady to grace our TV screens and now the boards, who surely sets the pulse of any red-blooded male racing faster than a Formula 1 racing car. A show like Midnight Tango surely has been long overdue to showcase these outstanding, wonderful talents.
Not only did they come up with a splendid piece of dance theatre in Midnight Tango, but Vincent and Flavia were also very fortunate in finding the very best group of musicians for it, the UK's premier tango ensemble Tango Siempre with the extraordinary Argentinean, now British-based singer Guillermo Rozenthuler. Midnight Tango without these outstanding musicians would surely have been like Midnight Tango without Vincent and Flavia.
It is these superb musicians who lend the show its musical tango authenticity and it would be impossible to imagine the show without them. Throughout, their performance was as breathtaking as that of Vincent and Flavia and supporting cast. Jonathan Taylor's incisive piano, Ros Stephen's dancing, often burning violin, and Julian Rowland's romantic, atmospheric bandoneón in particular were as indispensable and delightful as Guillermo Rozenthuler's sensuous vocals, so reminiscent of the great tango master singer of the past, Carlos Gardel. The music matches the passion of the dances every step of the way to perfection. Tango Siempre and Guillermo Rozenthuler are the perfect complement to Vincent and Flavia.
Indeed, you could say that Midnight Tango provides us with a new mathematical formula: Vincent Simone + Flavia Cacace + Tango Siempre + Guillermo Rozenthuler = Tango Heaven!
The action of Midnight Tango is set in a late night bar in Buenos Aires, somewhere around the 1920s or 30s, and takes us to the very heart of the tango, a world of joy, jealousy, danger, excitement and pain and passion, an explosive journey that brings to life all the drama, sensuality and elegance of the tango. The story line is simple, even basic, but credible and satisfying. Touches of humour abound from the start and add to the credibility, as well as providing a bit of comic relief where the show might otherwise have been too intense. These comic touches come mainly from the characters of the bar's owners, Richardo (Ryszard Musial) and Malena (Monika Wydrowska).
The rest of the supporting cast of dancers are among
some of the finest Tango dancers in the world also - Giraldo Diomar as El Gato, Alexandra Wood as Alejandra, Santiago Monticelli as Santi, Sandra Monticelli as Margo, Guillermo Torrens as Rivera, Maria Maragaki as Giselle, Teddy Kempner as Carlos, and Tricia Deighton as Rosa. Giraldo Diomar (Escobar) and Alexandra Wood will be familiar also as one of the dancer couples in one of Tango Siempre's own shows, Tangomotion.
The excellent costume, set, lighting and sound design are also more than deserving of special commendation. Without the creative people behind these, there could be no show. And with Midnight Tango, they certainly excelled.
Vincent and Flavia, as one would expect, excelled themselves as dance personified. They simply are style, elegance, grace, fluidity and precision. Their spectacular choreography was as dazzlingly brilliant as their performances. Sultry, sexy, sensuous - and oozing more star quality than any other dancers. That's Vincent and Flavia. Perfection itself. Dance itself.
Special mention must be made of the fight scene between Pablo (Vincent) and rival for Sofia's (Flavia) affections, El Gato (Giraldo Diomar). A fight is difficult to choreograph, to do so convincingly near impossible. This fight was spectacular and spectacularly convincing. You could almost smell the testosterone raging and the blood flowing!
Midnight Tango proved to be a sensual, sensuous feast of sheer beauty, grace, passion and elegance with an intensity that was almost overwhelming. A spellbinding, totally mesmerising experience, an utter joy. The drama and the beauty of Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace's dance and that of their superb supporting cast, together with the absolutely sublime music, made for an unforgettable show.
The musicians provide more than just the music and form an integral part of the show, sometimes participating in
the action. Thus, singer Guillermo Rozenthuler was frequently to be seen fraternising with the dancers at the bar or singing among the dancers, while in one scene drummer Andrew Tween swapped his traps for a spectacular solo on the bottles of the bar. Near the end of the show, violinist Ros Stephen is joined centre-stage by Flavia Cacace for a violin duet. And yes, it really is Flavia playing, and more than credibly too!
The music selected for Midnight Tango ranges from some of the classic tangos - including one of the greatest of Carlos Gardel classics, Por Una Cabeza - through some outstanding selections from the repertoire of the father of Tango Nuevo, Astor Piazzolla, to specially composed pieces by members of Tango Siempre as well as relatively contemporary material such as Tom Waits. (Some of the music from Midnight Tango is available on a CD, Malandras Del Tango, by Tango Siempre.)
Midnight Tango is dance theatre at its sublime, supreme best, dance theatre as it should be. You can keep your typical West End musical, but give me Midnight Tango and Vincent and Flavia every time! Dance theatre just doesn't get any better than this.
Sadly, the current tour ends next week in Glasgow. Fortunately, you will have another chance to catch this fabulous show when Midnight Tango transfers to the West End and the Aldwych Theatre for ten weeks from 20th January next year.
Of course, it is also strongly to be hoped that the forthcoming season of Strictly Come Dancing will present one or two 'appetisers' from Midnight Tango, including of course the full compliment of Tango Siempre and Guillermo Rozenthuler. Excellent though Dave Arch's house band otherwise is, this would be something well beyond them, in terms of authenticity at least. Strictly unthinkable.
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