In conversation with Jacquie Storey, a dancer who turned down the opportunity to star in Hot Gossip, Arlene! The Glitz, the Glamour, The Gossip, lifts the lid on four decades of the amazing career of the feared, revered, adored doyenne, Arlene Phillips CBE.
From her humble beginnings growing up in Manchester and taking ballet lessons dressed in green ballet slippers (“because they were on sale and all they could afford”), to a life as the creator of risque dance group Hot Gossip, to choreographer for more Hollywood and UK films, commercials and music videos you would think possible, to her greatest and proudest productions; her two daughters Alana and Abi, the latter whom she had at 47 years; to finally her time as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing. No stone is left unturned, including her sacking at the hands of BBC bosses who were wanting to give the show a bit of a refresh, replacing her with Alesha Dixon.
Told using a montage of video footage of many of the incredible shows and films she has worked on and using an interview/interviewee format, Phillips’ steely determination shines through yet there’s a warmth to her. Still able to cut it as a dancer herself, Phillips has a natural ability to weave her story, using graceful dance moves and great articulation. There’s no doubting why she has achieved so much over such a long period of time and why the people she has worked with reads like a celebrity roll call including Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Brian May from Queen, and John Huston, the film director, who she worked with on Annie (1982).
Any fans of “Strictly” or old enough to remember Hot Gossip and the likes of the Kenny Everett Video Show, where the dance group found their fame, will appreciate the cultural references and content of this show but you’ll need to be quick, as it’s only on for five shows.
The chat show format is fast becoming a tried and tested format for Fringe entertainment and when done well, in an intimate setting, gives the audience the opportunity to understand our favourite celebrities just that little bit better. Arlene! The Glitz, The Glamour, The Gossip is no exception, being as slick as the interviewee but you wish that there had been time for audience questions so that we they could have been part of the action.