Filled with fun and nostalgia, Rip it Up is an enjoyable and easy going way to spend a couple of hours.
Ideal for fans of either Strictly Come Dancing or for those feeling nostalgic for the 1960’s, Rip it Up takes audiences on a whirlwind journey through the decade as seen through the music – and of course some wonderfully lively dancing.
Utilising the skills that Harry Judd, Louis Smith, Jay McGuiness and Aston Merrygold picked up during their time on Strictly Come Dancing perfectly, Gareth Walker’s production and choreography really reflects the era and manages to get the audience up on their feet. This is helped by Steve Howell’s retro set design and Francis Campbell’s colourful costume design, Rip it Up is a show that is undeniably corny but immensely entertaining from start to finish that leaves you with a smile on your face as you leave the theatre.
It has to be said that there are times when the show feels slightly stilted, losing the flow between dance numbers – particularly when host Cavin Cornwall chats to each of the leading cast about the 60’s and what made it great. Everything has a strong sense of being scripted and doesn’t come across as natural conversation.
However, despite this the performances are all high class – each capturing the very different styles of each performer’s style. Out of them all, Aston Merrygold looks the most comfortable on stage with his natural charisma shining through in dance routines including ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ or while singing ‘Dancing on the Street’ – he delivers plenty of personality that is pleasure to watch. Harry Judd is wonderfully precise and light on his feet – particularly during the slower numbers, while on the drums he is delivers great energy and enthusiasm as heard during ‘You Really Got Me’. Both Louis Smith and Jay McGuiness are excellent dancers – with Smith proving particularly elegant and graceful and McGuiness proving what a standout jive dancer he is. Gareth Walker’s choreography reflects all of their best skills as dancers and performers to great effect.
Elsewhere, Cavin Cornwall is a smooth and charismatic host, delighting the audience in the way in which he engages with them and keeps the show running as smoothly as possible. Jill Marie Cooper as vocalist continuously brings the house down with her renditions of songs such as ‘And the Beat Goes On’ , ‘Think’ and ‘Respect’ providing great energy and enthusiasm.
Rip it Up is a fun filled and entertaining show that fully engages with the audience from start to finish. It is unashamedly corny and can come across as formulaic in places but it contains strong and charismatic performances from its extremely talented cast.
By Emma Clarendon
Rip it Up continues to play at the Garrick Theatre until the 2nd June.