Tango Moderno
Theatre Royal Bath

The sizzling dance dynamos that are Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone take tango to the streets in their lively new show Tango Moderno, a cocktail of ballroom, Latin and Argentinian music and dance.

And very moderno it is too, featuring an ensemble of ten dynamic young dancers who hip-hop, cha-cha and tango athletically against the backdrop of the effective urban set of Morgan Large.

If tango began with the mix of Andalusian flamenco and the rhythms of South Africa, this show brings it up to date with a score that includes rock, jazz and songs made famous by the likes of Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran and Nina Simone.

It opens with Cacace and and Simone, tango world champions and former stars of Strictly Come Dancing, performing a riveting virtuosic classical tango, all the more dramatic for the fact that it is danced in perfect silence. They are extraordinary, so fast, so light.

A troubadour (Tom Parsons) steps forward and delivers a narration in rhyming verse, rather like the narrator in Blood Brothers. Initially, I find him irritating, but that feeling is dispelled when he sings – what a voice! Parsons can knock out the show’s numbers and is a dead ringer for Rag’n’Bone Man in a version of the song Human.

The narrator is the link between each of several scenes that demonstrate the power of dance as young couples grow and romance, fall out, have babies, clean and commute, all the stuff of modern life.

Cacace and Simone tango into these street scenes from time to time, not interacting, but weaving like a pair of cupids among the dancers imbuing them with the love of movement and dance.

The routines are dazzlingly upbeat and the ensemble is super talented, segueing from classical to contemporary in a heartbeat. The show’s director and choreographer Karen Bruce even injects some humour with such dances as the brilliant Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha and the cleaning ladies routine.

But the real showstoppers are when Cacace and Simone step centre stage for full-on Argentinian tango accompanied by violinist Oliver Lewis whose Flight of the Bumblebee is impossibly fast. These spine-tingling moments are what the audience has come for.

Lewis is part of an excellent on-stage band – although why it remains out of sight behind some chicken wire is a mystery. Rebecca Lisewski shares the singing with Parsons, literally so in a quite beautiful duet of Ewan MacColl’s The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face. Her version of Louis Jordan’s Three Handed Woman absolutely rocks.

The troubadour has the last word – “Turn up the music and dance before you die”, he tells us – which by then is what we’re all prepared to do. Then the stars take centre stage again for one last steamy tango and the audience rises to its feet as one, cheering and applauding.

Tango Moderno runs at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday 3 February. Call the box office on 01225 448844 or go online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk


Jackie Chappell