Review: Dancing with the Stars Live

Dancing with the Stars @ Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park Hard Rock Live. Northfield, OH.  Sun, Jan 18, 2015.

Summary: Fun and funny, tech problems, bad seats, pricey. Three stars.

At the Hard Rock Live performance area at the Rocksino in Northfield, Ohio, seats were folded chairs welded to the floor and crammed together flat on concrete with only a small section slightly elevated for reasonably good viewing at the very back. I attended the matinee performance with an admittedly older, sleepier audience.

Two IMAX screens on either side of the stage displayed only the second half in entirety and only two numbers during the first half. In the gaps, many people could see only the tops of heads on performers at a dance show where a huge part of the point is to be able to see their feet. $77 was definitely overpricing for the lackluster venue and tech blunders.

The show itself mostly comprised dance numbers you’ve already seen if you’ve been a fan of DWTS for any significant length of time. With Alfonso Ribeiro as host, the evening was more entertaining than it would have been without him, but he was the only star from the show to be touring with the pros. Great dancing, highly skilled as always, fun energy.

A little too much talk and music playing–Mark Ballas on guitar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy on violin–when there could have been more dancing. A small group of dancers included three unknowns, two of whom were probably chosen to make you do a double-take thinking they were Bethany Mota and Janel Parrish (a cheap trick). They revealed the dancers’ names only at the end of the show.

Witney, Emma, Kym, Sasha, Keo, Val, Mark, and Alfonso were a joy to watch. I was under the impression Tony would be there, but he had already begun performing “Ballroom with a Twist” with Anna Trebunskaya and others, appearing in our area the weekend after our one-day set of two shows. Another couple of pros and a few more stars from the show would have made the experience more worthwhile. The “Ballroom” show was cheaper and probably would have been a better value experience.

Advice for optimal enjoyment: Look into your venue, read several reviews, and be sure you will be satisfied with who is slated to perform before laying down the cash. If seeing these folks live makes little difference to you, you might be better off visiting YouTube for past seasons’ dance numbers. Hard Rock Live at the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, Ohio, is a venue not at all suitable for dance shows.

Favorite moments: Getting to see Val and Witney live. Val coming off stage down the aisle to greet an audience member. Alfonso and Witney performing their free style. Kym Johnson hosting three male audience members with boas dancing on stage.

Opening act: Alfonso and Witney dancing to Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” and doing “the Carlton.”

Bottom line: I give the overall experience a B- with a C- for venue and production and a B+ for the show.

Final thought: My favorite female pros number was from season 19: all in gold and white with fans blowing to Fifth Harmony’s “Boss.” The live show included a scaled-down version of the dance.

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