Strictly Ballroom the Musical will sweep flamboyantly into Blackpool in 2021, bringing all the Hollywood glamour of the 1992 movie it’s adapted from - a lavish affair typical of creator Baz Luhrmann's trademark opulent style.
The Australian writer, producer and director is renowned for his elaborate work, most famously his Red Curtain Trilogy of Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet (a modern take on Shakespeare’s play, set in Miami Beach), and Moulin Rouge! (set in 1900 Paris).
Other productions include the 2008 historical romance Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the Netflix 70s hip hop series The Get Down, and a stage version of Giacomo Puccini's La bohème. He has his own record label called House of Iona, and his album, Something For Everybody, features music from his films and spoken word Number 1 hit Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen).
Luhrmann's 2013 version of the Great Gatsby was shot in 3D, and is the epitome of his distinct style - described as ‘over-the-top’ with a focus on heightened reality. For his highest-grossing film, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan, Luhrmann worked with wife Catherine Martin, who won Oscars for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. Together they teamed up with Prada, Brooks Brothers, and Tiffany & Co to create luxurious 1920s outfits true to the time and novel.
Strictly Ballroom the Musical is similarly spectacular but reflective of the vibrant fashion of the 80s - with dancers performing in stunning chiffon and satin costumes, festooned in sequins and feathers and in a myriad of colours, from hot pink to neon orange, yellow and green.
Luhrmann has a natural eye for such designs and drama. His mother was a ballroom dance teacher and owned a dress shop, and his father ran a movie theatre. After gaining some acting experience he was accepted on his second attempt by Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). There, he and some fellow students devised a critically acclaimed stage play set in the ruthless world of ballroom dancing. In 1986, after he graduated, Luhrmann was asked to re-stage the play for Bratislava’s Czechoslovakian Youth Drama Festival. He produced a re-written and expanded version with the help of his old school-friend Craig Pearce, and the new improved Strictly Ballroom won festival awards for Best Director and Best Production.
The subsequent movie was a huge hit, becoming one of Australia’s most successful films of all time. It won multiple accolades, including three awards BAFTA awards for Best Costume Design, Best Original Film Score and Best Production Design, a 1994 Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, and Newcomer of the Year at the 1993 London Critics Circle Film Awards. Such is the movie’s cult status there are many nods to it in popular TV shows, including the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why and America’s Dancing With the Stars.
Strictly Ballroom the Musical premiered in Australia in 2014 and made its British debut in 2016 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, before opening on the West End in 2018.
Now Baz Luhrmann’s larger than life show, full of sequins, singing and salsa, is set to cha-cha its way through the UK and into the decadent world of the Winter Gardens, with its splendid Art Deco architecture and expansive Opera House stage. The perfect backdrop for a magical show sprinkled with all the glitz and glamour of a hit Hollywood movie.
Read about the show and book tickets here.
More on the Winter Gardens' dance heritage and Hollywood history here.