Love is in the air for Strictly Ballroom

  • 25/02/2014

By Caris Bizzaca

Baz Luhrmann says directing Strictly Ballroom The Musical has re-energised him after the years of work he put into The Great Gatsby.

Even before Gatsby took the box office by storm nearly a year ago, earning an estimated $351 million worldwide, Luhrmann had already started work on the musical version of his 1992 film Strictly Ballroom.

He says returning to the stage has been a joy.

"It's actually revitalised me a lot," he told media in Sydney during rehearsals.

"After Gatsby you know, waiting for rain and how are we going to do it, I have to walk in that door every morning and every single person... they're all in the room and we all stand there and we all invent it together."

He says it's hard not to have a positive reaction when you're dealing with Strictly Ballroom - which began as a stage play during Luhrmann's days at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) and went on to become a hit film.

"There's a joy in Strictly Ballroom, no matter what form it's been in... and that joy and that uplift comes from a sense of play," Luhrmann says. Unless he embraced that, he adds, he knows the show wouldn't be any good.

"So I've actually really enjoyed it and it's really energised me."

Luhrmann's usual creative team - which includes his wife, Academy Award-winning costume designer Catherine Martin, choreographer John "Cha Cha" O'Connell and co-writer Craig Pearce - are on board. So is an Australian cast of 43, led by Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos in the pivotal roles of Scott Hastings and Fran.

Luhrmann says the production is a "direct cousin" of the film: the story is the same, the iconic costumes are the same, and all the much-loved (and hated) characters are there.

At the rehearsal today, journalists were treated to an impressive paso doble number, as well as some moments between Scott and Fran.

But what's exciting is that this version not only dances, but sings.

And just as he does for his film soundtracks, Luhrmann has collaborated with different composers and artists for this stage show.

While all the classics, including Love Is In The Air, are in there, so is new music by people including Sia, Eddie Perfect and David Foster. (Foster worked with Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge! on the song 'Come What May'.)

Luhrmann jokes he's still adjusting to live theatre after years of being able to get that second or third take.

"I'm going to jump up every night and say, `Stop, let's go again.' It will be one in the morning and they're going to go like, `Is he done?'"

* Strictly Ballroom premieres at the Sydney Lyric Theatre on April 12.


source: newshub archive