Phoebe Panaretos and Thomas Lacey in Strictly Ballroom.
Phoebe Panaretos and Thomas Lacey in Strictly Ballroom. Jeff Busby

Strictly Ballroom's Sydney stage debut glitzy fun

A LESS than tasteful dance movie turned into a musical was never going to be considered classy but the fun and over-the top glitz of Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, drew the who's who of the entertainment industry to Sydney's Lyric Theatre on Saturday.

Dressed in their sparkling best, actors from the original movie mixed with the stars of today at the global premier of the musical, which takes audiences back to the early '90s ballroom circuit.

From the moment the curtains opened, Catherine Martin's sequin encrusted costumes were the star of the show.

While critics were harsh on the strength of the performances of the two lead lovers - Thomas Lacey as Scott Hastings and Phoebe Panaretos as the awkward Fran - fans of the movie embraced the entire cast, even when scenes verged on the ridiculous.

A scene from the musical Strictly Ballroom. Supplied by show's official media website.
Oscar-winner Catherine Martin's dazzling costumes in Strictly Ballroom.

There were stand-out performances from Heather Mitchell as Scott's overbearing mother Shirley and Robert Grubb as Federation president Barry Fife.

Grubb's song Dance to Win, which was penned especially for the show by Offspring's Eddie Perfect, drew loud applause as did the infamous "rooftop Rumba", which was executed on one of the show's many impressive sets, complete with glittering Coca Cola sign as the backdrop.

Just as Fernando Mira shone in the stage version, Antonio Vargas, the original actor who played Fran's father Rico, stole the show at the after party - Paso Dobleing his 70-year-old feet around the floor with ease.

The crowd-pleasing performance was backed up by an emotional speech by Luhrmann, who recalled being unemployed and living in a northern Queensland caravan park when he got the call to say the movie, which up to that point had been rejected by Australian producers, had been picked up by the legendary Cannes Film Festival.

A night of dancing was kicked off with a performance of Love is in the Air, by original singer John Paul Young.

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