A whimsical review of Strictly Ballroom The Musical at Sydney Lyric

“A life lived in fear is a life half lived”

strictly ballroom musical

This is the Australian production of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical, which is based on the classic 1992 film (you’ll know it if you were born in the early 80’s – it was the one of the most famous Australian films of all time, up there with stuff like Crocodile Dundee). The latest production is fairly new – the global premiere was at Sydney Lyric in April 2014 and we caught it a couple of days ago.

strictly ballroom tickets

I didn’t realize I’ve watched the original movie and knew most of the songs by heart so when it was described to me, I thought it sounded like a the love child of a threesome involving West Side Story, Romeo & Juliet and Dirty Dancing.

strictly ballroom merchandise

I’m a huge fan of musicals, and caught a lot of them during my 2010 backpacking trip through Europe, starting with Wicked in West End. I even watched Les Misérables in French!

I did not understand a single word. Okay, that was a bit of an overstatement, maybe I understood 7 but it’s definitely something you can count with your fingers.

strictly ballroom sydney lyric

To be perfectly honest, I thought I was in for a slightly dry Australian play but I was keen to catch a musical here, especially a local one.

strictly ballroom australia

As I settled in my seat and took in the gorgeous period posters and large disco ball on the ceiling of Sydney Lyric, I started to get into the interactive elements where your section of the theater cheers for a particular ballroom dancing competition couple. I won’t spoil it for you, but don’t worry, it’s nowhere near the over-the-top madness of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

strictly ballroom pose

…and then there was the pivotal scene, a familiar snippet of lyric which was done in conversational spoken word, the part where ballroom dancing movements were taught to the Latino main female lead (which arguably is the best scene in the musical)

If you’re lost, and you turn, and you will find me.
If you’re *lost*, and you turn, and you will find me.
If you’re lost, and you turn, and you will find me.
If you’re lost, and you turn, and you WILL find me.
Time after time

The spoken word segued into a beautiful and powerful sotto song from the male lead and I thought to myself “I KNOW THIS SONG!”.

Memories flooded back and I was hooked – all the songs were familiar and I found myself tapping my feet, singing along and wanting to go on the large conga line that formed after the encore with the cast leading members of the public up to the stage.

strictly ballroom stage

It was the best musical I’ve watched in Australia. I wanted to sing, I wanted to tap my feet and I wanted to dance! It made me feel alive and loved every single moment of it!

strictly ballroom props

In that way, Strictly Ballroom lived up to “The story that inspired the world to dance”, at least for me, an a little old lady in her late 60’s, wheelchair bound and breathing oxygen, but clapping her hands happily as the musical went through songs like Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and of course, Time After Time.

strictly ballroom program

I guess if I had one negative thing to say about Strictly Ballroom The Musical, it would be the Coca-Cola advertisements / product placement, which I found to be intrusive and detracts from the entire experience.

…and with that said, let’s move on to:

(let me do the intentional irony smirk first)


Short mention:

I’m still in New South Wales, having a lot of fun taking photos and videos with my Xperia Z1. I’m staying at Ramada Resort Shoal Bay, which is about 3 hours from Sydney. It’s located in the Port Stephens area and we had a lot of water activities, sandboarding and ATV riding over sand dunes which can be really bad for regular smartphones…

…but not for the waterproof and dust resistant Z1! I did all those activities and just washed my smartphone and it was as good as new! I even took a walkthrough of my wonderful beach facing suite as soon as I got back. Check out the video above, it’s shot in 1080p Full HD. I’m looking forward to the Xperia Z2 coz that has an even higher recording mode – 4K! 🙂

strictly sydney

I just came back from a night of Vivid Sydney, experiencing lots of interactions, including one that’s inspired by Strictly Ballroom The Musical! It’s called MirrorBall Heart (Installation # 19 – it’s the one with the disco dance floor and a heart with “Strictly Sydney” on it) and it’s just a short walk away from the hotel. Catch up with what I’m doing on my other social media channels:


Posted: 8:26 am Sydney time (GMT +2)

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14 thoughts on “A whimsical review of Strictly Ballroom The Musical at Sydney Lyric”

    • I saw the movie – ya, Time after Time was in it. I wouldn’t say I’m into theatre but musicals are a completely different thing. Love going to one so so so much, such a wonderful experience.

      • Yup, I totally agree with you!

        Musicals, are totally different from movies, with different budgets and an unforgiving live performance. I’ve done an annual school musical before and that was just for high school in Christchurch and already it was so much work (3 days consecutively, forgot my lines the second day and made it up, messed up my exit the third day) so I know somewhat little how it feels like to be cast.

    • Yeah, it’s a great musical! 🙂

      I really enjoyed the cast in Sydney performing this coz I’ve watched the movie from over 20 years back!

    • Yeah, and it was packed too coz the premier was just a couple of weeks ago! 🙂

      I love Strictly Ballroom coz I watched the movie before as a kid so I know the storyline and I loved the songs so much!

    • Haha! I think a lot of males like musicals! 🙂

      There’s lot of couples and single men when I was watching musicals in London’s West End and the same holds true for Australia. I think perhaps locals (of both genders) are less inclined to watch musicals, I’ve heard people tell me it’s boring and they prefer to watch movies but I don’t think that demographic is what the musicals and operas are targeting anyway.

      I think musicals and operas goes down better with the older demographic, I’m 33 myself but I’ve always liked them coz I prefer watching live performances than going to the cinema, but to be honest my history is biased.

      I was in the annual school play called Peer Gynt when I was 15 and studying at Riccarton High School in Christchuch, was the only Asian to join the drama club and I played the second male lead, still have the tshirt with all our names on it. Drama camp was the best thing ever, and the only thing to hold my interest in school.

      I also watched a lot of drama school plays (usually free for students, or nominal fee) when I was studying in Melbourne so I caught the bug really early. The first one I went to had full nudity too and I didn’t quite get it at first (it’s called Mum’s the Word) and I blogged about it.

  1. Hey I am a big fan of any stage shows too from musicals to Walt Disneys and even Tiffany Cabaret Shows in Phuket & Bangkok. Sgrmse ~ Who says it’s not for men??? LOL… I even watched Bolshoi Ballets and Chinese Opera Shows in China! Remember, I am Twilight Man! Wakakaka

    HB ~ You are amazing, always flying everywhere like birds to enjoy life.

    • I think it’s how you were brought up – I know a lot of places encourages students to go to art museums and plays by making entrance free or for a nominal fee so they get to experience and appreciate art at an earlier age. 🙂

      The average Malaysian does not appreciate art as much coz of the lack of such initiatives although it’s getting a lot better now with a lot of local productions going on, at least in the cities, which still makes it a small proportion of the entire country.

      I was also involved in a school annual play when I was studying in NZ so I loved productions coz I can see the work involved as a cast at a relatively young age so I appreciate all that goes into it as a member of the audience later! 🙂

    • Yeah, there are local theater productions here but it seems that more Malaysians enjoy comedy so stand up comedy is a big thing at Jaya One while other more serious productions don’t get the same attendance, unfortunately.

      You’re right though, the tickets can be quite expensive here, although to be fair if you don’t convert, it’s about the same as West End prices, although not of the same quality. 🙂


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