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Catherine Cervasio and Baz Luhrmann at Strictly Ballroom
Catherine Cervasio and Baz Luhrmann at Strictly Ballroom

Strictly Ballroom The Musical Opening Night With Baz Luhrmann

WOMAN.com.au Ambassador and founder of Aromababy, Catherine Cervasio, recently attended the opening night of Strictly Ballroom the Musical. If you love musicals, this one is definitely not to be missed.

Want to go? WOMAN.com.au readers receive a glass of bubbly and reduced ticket price at *$99 per person (normally $120 with no bubbles!) for screenings on Tuesday to Thursday. Email [email protected] or phone  1300 364 001 and mention “WOMAN”. 

*does not include booking fee or credit card fees which may apply.


Based on the movie of the same name, Strictly Ballroom follows the life of a young dance champion (Thomas Lacey) who rebels against his parents and chooses instead to follow his heart, falling in love with an amateur dancer (Phoebe Panaretos), giving rise to the show’s motto “A life lived in fear is a life half lived”.  Originally a stage play put together by Baz Luhrmann with fellow NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) students in 1984, Strictly Ballroom was eventually made into a film, casting Paul Mercurio as the lead after successful performances in Europe and then Sydney. Also cast for the original movie were none other than Sonia Kruger and Todd McKenney. The movie first gathered momentum after getting noticed at the Cannes Film Festival.  When the film launched in Australia in 1992, it went on to be nominated in 13 categories of the AFI (Australian Film Industry) Awards, winning 8 of those going on to earn approximately $80 million at the box office.  In 2011 an alliance was formed with entertainment group Global Creatures (think War Horse and How to Train your Dragon) to bring Strictly Ballroom the Musical, to the stage.

“From a small student play, to my first motion picture and now a full-blown theatrical stage musical, Strictly Ballroom has been an almost thirty year journey for me. I have often marvelled at how this story, born so long ago, has been in my life for so many years and has managed to touch, move, entertain and uplift so many different people from so many different backgrounds,” explains internationally acclaimed film director Baz Luhrman.

“I think the simple truth is that, despite all the sequins, outrageous hairdos and classic Hollywood musical plotting, the simple message that there isn’t only one way to cha cha cha, and that within us all we have the true potential to dance through life with our own steps is something that appeals to all of us. The message that life doesn’t have to be strictly ballroom is something I hope to have our audiences carry with them as they dance down the aisles,” he adds.

Melbourne’s spectacular red carpet affair saw the cream of Australian film and theater out in force. With champagne flowing and sequins aplenty, VIPs stopped for photographs with media and fans who had gathered to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. Amongst the guests, Offspring’s Asher Keddie and Eddie Perfect (Eddie also composed three songs for the show), Helen Richey of Dancing with the Stars, Patti and Lauren Newton, Kate Ceberano and Gynton Grantley of House Husbands and Underbelly fame.

The fluro pink, yellow and green colour-blocked seating layout of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, provided a fabulous, interactive experience for the audience as each section cheered for their designated ‘dance team’. With all the tunes that made the movie famous, from Time after Time to Love is in the Air, the show was an audible delight – the duet Beautiful Surprise sung by sensational leads Phoebe Panareto and Tom Lacey. Phoebe has been nominated for a 2014 Helpmann Award for her role in this show. Tom has been dancing since the age of 2, taking up Latin aged 11. Phoebe’s protective father is played by dashing Australian-born Fernando Mira, a seasoned performer, born of Spanish parents who encouraged his dance from a very young age. With enough glitter, sparkles and feathers to well and truly transport you back to the 1980s, this glamorous show utilises 5 litres of spray tan each week, has a wardrobe with 200 costumes and boasts no less than 84 wigs.

With seats in the first few rows, I was lucky enough to be one of those invited to join Baz and his crew on stage for the glitzy, final dance number – an extended version of Love is in the Air.

The swish after-party was held at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins whose team put on a glittering soiree with all the trimmings – giant, coloured lanterns hung from the ceilings across two ballrooms, where pans of paella, antipasto and a dessert bar complete with chocolate fountain were waiting.

Following more after-party, red carpet formalities, Baz Luhrmann together with his wife, award-winning costume designer Catherine Martin, took to the stage for a short speech, talking of their fondness for Melbourne, the city where they first met, and joking with guests about their almost three-decade-long marriage lasting due to their ability to ‘argue’. Baz introduced surprise guest, John Paul Young, who belted out his hit Love is in the Air to an adoring crowd who went on to dance into the wee hours. Baz, together with the entire cast, was gracious throughout the evening, mingling with VIP guests and media, at one point, grabbing our camera and taking a selfie with me.

Now showing in Melbourne until May.

WOMAN.com.au readers receive a glass of bubbly and reduced ticket price at *$99 per person (normally $120 with no bubbles!) for Tuesday to Thursday screenings. Email [email protected] or phone  1300 364 001 and mention “WOMAN”. 

*does not include booking fee or credit card fees which may apply.




About Catherine Cervasio

Armed with a passion for fashion and beauty, together with a love of health and wellness, particularly involving natural and organic skincare for mother and child, my focus is education through workshops, guest appearances and written content for print, online and social media. Recent work includes an interview for Qantas' in-flight program globally, guest 'skincare expert' for Huggies Australia together with multiple engagements for Austrade, Vecci, Melbourne Business School and various women in business organisations, presenting topics from export to entrepreneurship.

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