Baz Luhrmann is one of those directors whose aesthetic is immediately recognizable – and not to everyone's taste. Personally, I love the technicolour glossiness of a Luhrmann film. I love the staginess taken to extravagant lengths, the lush visuals and golden light, the swooning romance and sneering villians. Clothes are never just clothes, but costumes. Places have a feeling of unreality about them. In Luhrmann's world, everything is fake, but that doesn't mean it's not true. He makes movies where we know everything is artificial. Everything has been designed, chosen with care, for the single purpose of showing us an emotional truth. In other words, the more unreal it seems, the more it resonates in the heart.
When it comes to competitive ballroom dancing, think of the athletically choreographed steps, the illusion netting, the million-watt smiles. A good dancer never lets the audience see her bleeding feet or his bad knees. Yet the grace and fluidity they bring to the stage is breathtaking. Their bodies tell a story and become part of the theatrical experience. In fact, the only thing I can think of that's more stagy than competitive dance is a musical. So the creation of a stage musical using Baz Luhrmann's 1992 film Strictly Ballroom as source material is a pretty natural progression. In fact, Luhrmann adapted the movie from his own stage play – a rare example of a story going from stage to screen to stage again. The show has its North American premiere run right now in Toronto.Read More