Beautiful, magnificent and a must-see, ‘Rouge’ rouses a standing ovation on opening night at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts!

Based on the famous story of Moulin Rouge, this student-led dance performance was captivating from start to finish. This unique re-telling of the show was innovative and truly brought a distinctive spin on the fragmented memories of young poet, Christian (William Lishman) as we learn that, underneath ‘all you need is love’.

The production was directed and choreographed by Jacqueline Jones who must be congratulated for creating such a dynamic and visually stunning show. The choreography, assisted by Andrew Hall and Alyx Steele, was awe-inspiring; with a fine mix of solos, duets and jaw-dropping group numbers that were executed wonderfully by such a talented cast. Jones’ vision was moving, sharp and something I have never seen before, particularly not in a student show.

The cast were stellar and were led by the phenomenally gifted Aishwarya Raut (Satine) and William Lishman. Raut was gorgeous from beginning to end and displayed the emotions of her character wonderfully. Her connection to the journey of the routines were exquisite and show-stealing- a real star. Lishman was also stunning in his execution of a very difficult role and his solo towards the end of the piece was undeniably heart-wrenching and a gem to watch.

The whole ensemble worked together exceptionally well and every cast member on that stage has a promising career ahead of them. A number of other cast members stood out; Caitlin McCarthy, Ida Jørgensen and Sanea Singh. However, it was Dillan Suttle and Ella Redhead who made their mark on this production. Suttle exuded sex and sassiness as Roxanne whilst Redhead’s captivating characterisation made her incredibly hypnotizing to watch.

The boys also showed incredible ability. Myles Harper was a delight to watch throughout the entire performance. Harper honed in on his incredible dance ability and married that with his true talents for acting to create the diverse character of Zidlar whilst Eirik Dreyer Sellevoll was fantastic as the villainous Duke. Indeed, it was Sellevoll’s duet with Raut to song, ‘Roxanne’ that stole the show and had me sitting on the edge of my seat. The pairing were breath-taking and you could hear a pin-drop at the end of their routine.

The collaboration between musicians and dancers made this production exclusively original. Chris Yates’ musical direction was beautiful and Courtney James’ rap and narration was superb and helped tell the story in such a poetic way. The musical team worked fantastically well to create new songs, sung perfectly by Mikey Jones, Shayaan Oshidar, Ryan Bickley, Marianne Ottersen, Kristrùn Steingrimsdóttir, Eline Brun, Katya Edwards and Tammy Howarth. These individuals have unquestionable skill that promises to launch them into successful careers in the future.

The creative team played an enormous role in making a stand-out show. Costume designer Julia Dedova and assistant Victoria Lee created pieces that were works of art within themselves. They transported us to a mystical land with the introduction of The Bohemians before a dazzling contrast of beauty and style in the Bollywood themed finale.

With recent renovations to the LIPA campus, it was clear that the aerial studios were put to good use with the inclusion of remarkable aerial routines that took the show to new heights. Opening nights can often be very daunting for a technical team, however this show ran seamlessly and the lighting design by George Leigh was a particular stand out and encapsulated the mood of the piece to perfection.

This show deserved the standing ovation and is incontestably the highlight of the LIPA season, with Jacqueline Jones once again propelling the LIPA ethos that collaboration creates the most mesmerizing theatre. Rouge is not to be missed. Thursday 26th May - Saturday 28th May at The Paul McCartney Auditorium.

Reviewed: 26th May 2016

Reviewer: Lauren Waine