What to expect in Strictly Ballroom musical


Until July 6

Sydney Lyric Theatre, Pyrmont

Tickets here or 1300795 267

Baz Luhrmann always dreaded he would be 40 and making Strictly Ballroom the Musical.

He's now 52, and that's exactly what he's done.

But it's turned out to be not such a bad thing.

The director and co-writer first devised Strictly Ballroom as a play at NIDA in 1984, and it became a movie in 1992.

"I was turning 30 [when I was making the film] and in the back of my mind I always thought, 'it's got to be a musical' and I went, 'god I hope I don't end up being like 40 and I'm doing Strictly Ballroom the Musical," he said at a media preview of the musical in Sydney on Thursday.

"I'm 52. So I think it will always be in my life."

Luhrmann says he and his wife, Oscar-winning set and costume designer Catherine Martin, wanted to bring it back to the stage in Sydney where they could be with their nearest and dearest.

"Part of the great passion for CM and I to come back and do Strictly Ballroom in Sydney was to be with our children, to be with our friends, to be with all those creatives we worked with for so many years and that is becoming increasingly the leading question in our life," he said.

Media were treated to three of the show's numbers on Thursday, including a dazzling, sequined samba opening and a rendition of Time After Time by Scott Hastings and Fran (Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos) in that famous scene from the rooftop of the dance studio (Coca-Cola sign included).

But don't expect to just watch a film reproduced on stage.

"The most essential element in this production ... is the all-singing all-dancing 2000 seats of audience," Luhrman says.

The theatre is decked out with posters on the walls, like a dance hall, and the sequin-covered seats, split into different coloured sections, give the audience a chance to barrack for different dancers during the contests.

Initially the director was worried that the audience wouldn't get on board, but judging by Thursday's reaction he has nothing to fear.

"In fact, our biggest issue at the moment is ... they start booing Barry Fife ... so they're SO on board. And then there's the getting up and the dancing."

Could the production, presented by Global Creatures, have a life after Sydney, and even potentially overseas?

"If it's good enough and it plays enough," Luhrmann says.

"But the short answer, which I seem incapable of giving, is yes." AAP

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