Oti Mabuse is fierce! Move over beyonce


Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Oti in action in the GOH, it was a long time coming as the show was originally planned around 2 years ago. Great that Oti can finally say 'I AM HERE!'.


As an avid fan of strictly I have always had such appreciation for both the Pro dancers and celebs who partake each season though Queen Oti is in a league of her own and last night was testimony to all her hard work. The theatre was packed to the rafters and I don't think anyone knew what the next 2 hours would entail. WOW! let's dive in or in this case dance lol.


Right on cue the stage came alive at 7.30, you could feel the adrenaline, we were greeted with a mash up of iconic songs while eagerly waiting for Oti to take to the stage - the 2 vocalists who were joined by 10 dancers wouldn't be a miss taking the lead in any west end production, they had such powerful voices, I'd be lying if I didn't say I was envious of the guy's voice. As for first impressions of the dancers, all impeccable , it was great seeing such an ethnic mix of dancers it really added to the feel and theme around the story.


Once the tension built Oti made herself known, the audience honestly erupted with excitement seeing the familiar strictly star strutting her stuff LIVE. What a powerhouse, she danced for a good 10 minutes then unbelievably had the stamina to talk to the audience.


Lately we have seen Oti judge and host on telly, this is challenging though cant be compared to dealing with and engaging a live audience, many would struggle and crumble though not Oti, I was super surprised how natural she was, so funny and humble and within minutes had us the audience eating from the palm of her hand.


I am unsure if the concept of the show was decided by Oti though it was so clever taking us on a journey from the highs and lows that Oti and her family have faced. Unlike many a tale this wasn't in chronological order , it all kicked off with her first Strictly win and a super energetic Samba section, all performers on stage were giving it, we were in awe watching such technical moves while embracing the explosion of colour with the costumes, lighting and graphics.


Next we were transported to Germany, Oti shared how she lived there for a time and met her now husband, the next section which I will refer to as "99 red balloons" was simply beautiful, spoiler alert I don't think anyone expected Marius her husband to join her on stage and dance, this was beautiful you could feel the chemistry and see the trust in their relationship as Oti and Marius danced.


The next section for me as a thespian was unsurprisingly my favourite "West end" I really did think I was in London, for approx 10 minutes we were treated to a mega mash up of song and dance from so many well known musicals such as West side Story, Chicago, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Dirty Dancing and Tina to name a few, I was in my element singing away dreaming I was on stage with this plethora of insane talent.


Being a woman and a strong one is clearly important, Oti celebrated this and the many important woman who have shaped her through her life, this next section was powerful, dancing to relatable songs like "This Girl Is On Fire".


To take us to the interval we jetted off to South Africa, this section really resonated with me, my family have lived in SA for around 25 years and this year I will be visiting for the 5th time, all the dancers appeared on stage in traditional and tribal attire and Oti wearing vibrate red looked like a goddess with a beautiful outfit and matching headdress. It was apparent how important her heritage was and was a pleasure to see the joy on stage while all the performs danced to traditional African music.


The 2nd half opened with a village party it was so much fun to watch, the dancers characterisation playing various roles , the tourist, someone in control of the BBQ etc, it was so original and really made me feel like I was watching a play.


The next section was somewhat somber, reminding everyone of the difficulties people of colour have faced in Africa during apartheid , the male dancers really set the scene and mood as the danced dressed as matadors depicting a physical altercation - it was very poignant


I don't want to give away to much more but I need to touch on 2 more sections. First Oti really invited the audience into her world, sharing pictures of her childhood, a message of pride from her mum and a tribute to her niece who sadly passed away earlier this year.


And finally the finale and closing sequence , typically during an encore you are invited to stand to dance/applaud etc not in this show lol, the audience were on their feet for the last 10-15 minutes it was such a celebration - Oti was dressed in a figure hugging gold catsuit that could have been pinched from Beyonce wardrobe, she looked unreal and again blew the audience away with her powerful moves and attitude , you cannot help but watch in amazement.


No show would be complete without a little audience participation, this was loads of run learning a dance routine from Oti and the other pro's, this brought the 2 hour show to a close, the audience were left wanting a little more, fingers crossed it won't be long before Oti returns, if and when she does we the audience will be ready for more

Over the years I have had the privilege to review all genres of theatre though from memory I do not recall a dance show that was so personal and captivating that used phenomenal singers, music and musicians to bring a story to life. In closing I genuinely had a great night, I went not knowing what to expect and was blown away with the story and showmanship, hats off to you Oti, the team and all the performers


This really is a show for all!

You don't want to miss 'I AM HERE' it is on again this evening with extremely limited availability and closes tomorrow night (Thursday 2nd June) get tickets if you can via Oti Mabuse: I Am Here - Grand Opera House (goh.co.uk)


Review by Daniel May

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