Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Show is fab-u-lous family fun
Panto season may have drawn to a close, but don't worry as Strictly Come Dancing Live is here to fill the void.
There's boos, cheers, silly jokes, fairytale dresses and even a kind of miserable dame in Craig Revel Horwood.
Family fun at the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour
The crowd get to join in a few "Sev-eerns" with Len Goodman, Bruno Tunioli has a million and one double entendres, while celebrity dancer Mark Benton is told he looks like a giant Ferrero Rocher after grooving away to MC Hammer's You Can't Touch This. It's all good family fun.
Birmingham NIA hosted the opening night of the UK tour that stops off at nine cities bringing the glamour, celebrities and judges out from the BBC studios to the public's doorstep. The audience also get to vote by text for their winner at each show after two dances by each couple.
There are some differences in that Darcey Bussell isn't joining the other three judges, Craig, Len and Bruno, for the tour; and instead of Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly, the show is presented by popular former contestant Lisa Riley. She's warm and fun but no nearly as slick yet as the usual television show hosts.
The event opens with a suitably sparkly showbusiness song and dance number as a huge glitterball is hoisted above the dancefloor. There's fantastic live singers and a band performing on stage, and Lisa Riley even takes a turn centre stage and shows she's still got some moves, before introducing the seven celebrity couples.
They are predominantly from the latest series with Westlife's Nicky Byrne from the previous outing also making up one of the contestants with professional dance partner Karen Hauer.
The line-up is an exciting one as it features the latest winner Abbey Clancy with partner Aljaz Skorjanec, along with finalists Natalie Gumede with Artem Chigvintsev and Susanna Reid with Kevin Clifton.
All three prove why they reached the final with impeccable dancing. Abbey is a natural dancer as she rattles off the Walking on Sunshine quickstep and Saturday Night Fever salsa with ease in the arms of sultry Aljaz - even more hunky in real life.
The three judges live up to expectation
Natalie gets to finally dance the previously unseen jive, which she could not perform after falling ill in week seven of the series. Her dreamy Viennese waltz with Artem is also a standout moment. While Susanna lets the audience see her popular Los Toreadors Paso Doble and Can't Take My Eyes Off You foxtrot.
Joining them is Ben Cohen with Kristina Rihanoff; Deborah Meaden with Robin Windsor; and the comedy couple Mark Benton with Iveta Lukosiute. They all are fun and hugely entertaining but are limited with their dance abilities, something a particularly grouchy Craig is keen to point out.
There's also time for some extra group dances and the final one of the show to Britney Spears' Toxic is a highlight.
Well directed by Craig Revel Horwood, the show follows the same format as the television programme with chats to each couple and scores from the judges.
The sparkly dresses are to die for, the dance routines are "fab-u-lous darling" and the whole show is a fun, glittering event. Strictly fans will not be disappointed.
Strictly Come Dancing Live UK Tour
17 – 19 January - Birmingham NIA
(Friday 17th at 7.30pm, Saturday 18th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Sunday 19th at 1.30pm and 6.30pm)
20 – 21 January - London Wembley Arena
(Monday 20th at 7.30pm and Tuesday 21st at 7.30pm)
23 January - Liverpool Echo Arena
(Thursday 23rd at 2.30pm and 7.30pm)
24 – 26 January - Leeds First Direct Arena
(Friday 24th at 7.30pm, Saturday 25th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Sunday 26th 1.30pm)
28 – 29 January - Sheffield Motorpoint Arena
(Tuesday 28th at 7.30pm and Wednesday 29th at 7.30pm)
30 – 31 January - Newcastle - Metro Radio Arena
(Thursday 30th at 7.30pm and Friday 31st at 2:30pm and 7.30pm)
1 – 2 February - Glasgow - The SSE Hydro
(Saturday 1st at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, and Sunday 2nd at 1.30pm and 6.30pm)
4 – 5 February - Nottingham - Capital FM Arena
(Tuesday 4th at 7.30pm and Wednesday 5th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm)
6 – 7 February - Manchester - Phones 4u Arena
(Thursday 6th at 7.30pm and Friday 7th at 7.30pm)
8 – 9 February - London - O2 Arena
(Saturday 8th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, and Sunday 9th at 1.30pm and 6.30pm)