THE programme may advertise An Evening with Anton Du Beke, but you get a great deal more than an evening just in the company of the multi-talented Mr Du Beke. Joining the man we most associate as dancer then judge with the long-running TV show Strictly Come Dancing, are four top-of-the-range, beautifully costumed dancers, piano playing MD Clive Dunstall and eight live musicians – and one-time regular Strictly vocalist Lance Ellington.
Set pieces like If They Could See Me Now,from Sweet Charity, memories of Bob Fosse’s Bowler hat routines, and dramatic tangos, are mixed with first waltz lessons and the romantic Autumn Leaves, each number expertly choreographed to fit the mood of the music by Elizabeth Honan. These were interlaced with a string of stories, many linked to Anton’s experiences in Strictly Come Dancing.
Without the necessity to use a single swear word or reference (if you disregard an innocent childlike cheeky remark) that would bring a blush to the cheek of the most prim of maiden aunts, Anton kept the comedy rolling better than the average Live at the Apollo standup comedian. His description of the attempts to get Ann Widdicombe to move after the second beat (she doesn’t read music) produced a peal of laughter from the packed audience. It also showed a great affection for a lady who, whilst she was not the world’s best dancer, was game for any challenge that came up. There was also a lovely sense of affection and admiration in the memories of two former Strictly colleagues, Bruce Forsyth and Len Goodman.
The way in which Anton worked the audience, answering, after identifying the senders of questions sent to him during the show, showed him to be a master of one of the most difficult of show business arts, making and keeping contact with a live audience. It was no surprise that, when asked what was his favourite part of show business, he replied: “Now. Playing to a live audience, I love it, I am having a great time, I only hope you are enjoying yourselves as much as I am”. The response from the audience will have left him in no doubt about their feelings on that subject.
To round off the picture of an all-round entertainer, Anton joined vocal forces Lance Ellington (Son of Ray Ellington, who supplied voices and with his quartet the music for the Goon show for nine years) to bring back memories of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Me and My Shadow, and The Lady is a Tramp, and then, joined by the full company to raise the roof, sending the audience home buzzing with excitement, with their version of New York, New York.
Now off on a long nationwide tour, Anton Du Beke and Friends returns to the west country on 26th September, at the Princess Theatre in Torquay.