Ball­room blitz has life of its own

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

BAZ Luhrmann says you never know who is go­ing to be a Strictly Ball­room fan. ‘‘For­get that the Pope put it on his list of top five films,’’ The Great Gatsby di­rec­tor says. ‘‘I re­mem­ber the first time I met Bill Clin­ton . . .’’ The for­mer US Pres­i­dent was in the mid­dle of an ar­gu­ment when he turned to Luhrmann to say Moulin Rouge! was great, but when it came to Strictly Ball­room, he must have played it at least six times in The White House.

‘‘And he leaned right over, he said, ‘how about that mother? What a piece of work, huh?’ and then goes back to ar­gu­ing with Richard Gere,’’ Luhrmann says.

Strictly Ball­room be­gan life as a play Luhrmann cre­ated while study­ing at NIDA, in­spired by the ball­room danc­ing he did dur­ing his child­hood. Af­ter be­ing made for the screen, he was told it was the worst movie one film dis­trib­u­tor had ever seen.

Feel­ing ‘‘hurt, burnt and sad’’, Luhrmann went up the NSW coast to a car­a­van park. He was stand­ing in the rain, mid hair-cut, with a bucket on his head to pro­tect him from lethal fall­ing co­conuts, when he got a phone call invit­ing him to the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.

From there, the lit­tle Aussie film went on to achieve global suc­cess and in­tro­duced Aus­tralia and the world to Luhrmann.

He would go on to make Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, Aus­tralia and most re­cently, The Great Gatsby, be­fore mak­ing the de­ci­sion to re­turn to his the­atri­cal

Strictly Ball­room The Mu­si­cal roots to stage a mu­si­cal ver­sion of his beloved film. ‘‘Some­how the plan­ets have aligned,’’ he says. Luhrmann said a lot of go­ing ahead with the pro­duc­tion came down to team­ing up with Global Crea­tures, the brains be­hind the crea­tures of King Kong and Walk­ing With Di­nosaurs pro­duc­tions, in or­der to bring it to life.

‘‘None of the dancers will be real. The en­tire cast are pup­pets,’’ Luhrmann jokes.

But with new pro­duc­tions like King Kong rais­ing the in­no­va­tive bar, Luhrmann is promis­ing some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary.

‘‘If we are not ac­tu­ally break­ing new the­atri­cal ground with it, than at my age, why would you bother?’’ he says.

Luhrmann re­mained tight-lipped about cast­ing, ex­cept that he had seen ‘‘the right kind of glim­mer’’ re­cently. How­ever he did re­veal that Strictly Ball­room will be a show where the au­di­ence can get in­volved.

‘‘That the au­di­ence are ac­tu­ally at times, they are at the (dance) fes­ti­vals,’’ he says.

‘‘So ex­plod­ing out into the space, danc­ing in the space, danc­ing be­ing all around you.

‘‘One thing I can guar­an­tee you, ev­ery­thing dances in this show.’’

– CARIS BIZZACA

Strictly Ball­room The Mu­si­cal plays Syd­ney’s Lyric Theatre from March 25.

The cast of

with Baz Lurhmann (cen­tre).

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