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Strictly's bad boy sizzles on the dance floor

Brendan Cole: Licence to Thrill

Strictly star Brendan Cole with his new show Licence To Thrill, at the Marlowe Theatre
Strictly star Brendan Cole with his new show Licence To Thrill, at the Marlowe Theatre

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Those of us suffering withdrawal symptoms from Strictly Come Dancing have been well-served at the Marlowe of late with a series of one-nighters.

The self-effacing Italian Vincent Simone and exotic Flavia Cacace blazed a trail with their seductive Midnight Tango (returning in July), followed by smoothy joker Anton Du Beke and lovely Erin Boag, who transported us to Hollywood.

Last weekend it was the turn of reformed “bad boy” Brendan Cole and his leggy French partner with model looks, Fauve Hautot, to combine a heady cocktail of Bond and ballroom in Licence to Thrill.

All three have been sell-outs, demonstrating the pulling power of the TV show, and could have filled the theatre for at least week-long runs.

New Zealand-born Brendan is more mischief than menace since the calming influence of marriage and his first child born on Christmas Day. He even showed his softer side by dedicating an American Smooth routine to baby Aurelia.

Never one to hold back, Brendan and Fauve and scintillating supporting dancers including “big brother” Scott, Crystal Main, Patrick Helm and Melanie Hooper, opened with a red hot cha cha cha to Boogie Wonderland.

Brendan couldn’t have wished for a better audience, which was lively and mostly female and included a fair number of us amateur dancers aspiring to the lofty standard unfolding in front of us.

The star of the show was relaxed and charismatic. He didn’t take himself too seriously and made it clear we were in for a couple of hours of excitement and fun. The fun part included a “cape off” by the boys and a “dance off” with the girls. The girls won.

Despite the billing, the Bond theme is shuffled to the background, but a stunning rumba to Licence to Kill from the superb 12-piece orchestra and singers Iain McKenzie and Julie Maguire was one of the many highlights.

Brendan obviously enjoyed the freedom to choreograph his own moves free from the technical strictures of Strictly and Len Goodman threatening to pickle his walnuts and wag his finger over illegal lifts.

The lesser known Fauve is nonetheless engaging and captivating and moulds perfectly with her partner for the quickstep, jive, Argentine Tango, foxtrot, paso doble, waltz, samba, mambo and salsa.

The obligatory Q&A session after the interval was the perfect opportunity for more mirth but there were surprisingly few probes about celebrity partners and Brendan only singled out Lulu for a bit of good natured ribbing.

Questions included one woman telling Brendan he had a nice bum, which prompted him to head into the audience to seek her out. Another had written down her Canterbury address and invited him back to hers, while one of my dance teachers was the recipient of a kiss on her 40th birthday.

The show came to an end all too soon with a full throttle jive to Footloose and a recreation of the famous Dirty Dancing routine to Time of My Life, culminating in a perfect running lift.

Nobody puts Brendan in the corner!

Keith Hunt

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