Originally scheduled to run last year, it seems not even lockdown could stop the force of rhythm that is Here Come The Boys from opening in the West End. Its debut may be a little later than planned, but that also brings with it a move to the larger London Palladium and an expanded cast to fill that bigger stage.
Directed and choreographed by Gareth Walker, Here Come The Boys has a pretty simple concept, four kings of dance battle it out to a backdrop of banging tunes, with each round focussing on a different type of dance. Between the rounds are bigger ensemble numbers, filled with inventive and captivating routines.
Taking on the Jive, Salsa, Ballroom and Rhumba battles are beloved dance stars Aljaž Škorjanec, Graziano Di Prima, Pasha Kovalev and Robin Windsor. The crowd clearly had their favourites; calling out, whooping and cheering to indicate who should win each round.
The evening is co-hosted by Karim Zeroual, who also takes part in a lot of the dance routines too. Karim is the perfect host, charming the audience while whipping up their excitement between rounds. His own ‘Tik Tok Tribute’ is gloriously frenetic, perfectly choreographed, and expertly performed.
Co-hosting alongside Karim Zeroual is Bass6, a world champion beatboxer, and in Here Come The Boys, the DJ. His impressive act helps to break up the routines, and provide smooth transitions to the next dance contest.
Joining ‘the boys’ is Nadiya Bychkova, who actually does a lot of the heavy lifting here, at one point appearing in six routines back to back. As do the ensemble cast who are always there to support the principal cast, with Giada Lini and George Michealides really standing out.
There’s plenty of variety to enjoy, the early part of the show makes the Palladium feel like a night club; the hardcore beat and pulsating lights giving the audience energy and a desire for more. As we move in to the Ballroom section, things take a more classic turn, before getting hot and steamy with the After Hours ensemble piece.
A special post-finale performance paid tribute to the NHS and key workers, its hopeful beauty reminded us all how lucky we were to be back in a theatre, a sentiment shared by the cast at various points throughout the show. To have mounted such a production during a pandemic is testament to how much each of these performers love and enjoy their craft.
While the two thirds empty Palladium perhaps lacked some of the audience buzz required to help people lose their inhibitions, and join in, for the final boogie, Here Come The Boys is still a spectacular production that brings some much needed fun, passion and rhythm back in to all of our lives.