Last night I went to the second live filming of Dancing With The Stars. The show is filmed at South Pacific Pictures Studio in Henderson, West Auckland, and tickets are free via the show's Facebook page. I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy it but, actually, I loved it. It was fun and entertaining and I would probably go again.
With a line-up of Roger Farrelly, David Seymour, Suzy Cato, Zac Franich and Naz Khanjani there was variety, glitz and glamour. We also got to witness the moments that you at home didn't get to see. Here's what was happening outside of the camera frames:
"What was that?" he was heard to splutter after one of the performances last night. When co-presenter Sharyn Casey mucked up a line during a pre-recording of a promo ad, he muttered loudly, "Come on, it's not that hard." A little bit mean – and the audience could hear everything.
There was a reason David Seymour was sitting on a great big motorbike at the beginning of his dance. It was meant to roar into life to create a show-stopping opening scene, but "the bloody motorbike wouldn't start," the floor manager Sarah told us in the next ad break. "We've been doing this all day and then the minute we go live..." she commiserated.
If you thought Suzy Cato's kids were adorable (and her daughter couldn't look more like her if she tried) you should have seen her son do the moon walk during one of the ad breaks. Encouraged up on to the floor by Sam (the guy who entertained us in between live recordings) he took off his shoes and, in sock-clad feet, showed us his moves to a Michael Jackson track. He was pretty good too.
Both Dai Henwood and Sam (the guy who entertained us in between live recordings) referred to Zac Franich as 'the nicest man in the world' and I concur. After the show we were standing around, waiting to talk to someone we knew and he noticed us looking a bit awkward. He approached us and asked us if we were okay and if we were waiting to talk to his partner, Erin Simpson. He's sweet, unassuming and I think New Zealand needs to give him a break.
In the closing scenes of the show you saw the celebs clapping and cheering with their partners in celebration. What you didn't see was David Seymour, who scored the lowest of the 12 contestants, huddled in the corner with his dance partner rubbing his arm and consoling him. Granted, he's not the most natural of dancers but he clearly felt he had let his partner down and was upset about it. Our hearts melted.
"I know, we told you the whole thing was live, but we actually pre-record the opening scene," Sarah the floor manager announced after we'd filed on set and found our seats. Sarah, by the way, was completely onto it and a dream to watch at work. We filmed two or three takes then watched ourselves back at 7.30pm with you – just for the first couple of minutes then it really was live.
After the show Zac was treated to an enormous hug by girlfriend Erin Simpson. He told viewers she was his number one fan, and it's clear she really is.
Only two days into her co-presenting role after being on maternity leave to care for new son, Tyson, Sharyn was awesome. "A little bit sexual," she said to Dai, of those weird wiggly dances he does. She kept apologising for stuffing up her lines in the pre-recorded parts, but she didn't muck up many and it was fine. She's exactly as she comes across on camera – fun, friendly and straight-up.
The likeness between the celebs and their family members was freakishly easy to spot, and kept us entertained during ad breaks. We had Roger Ferrally's mum picked out long before we were told she was his mum. And Suzy Cato's daughter is an adorable mini-me version of her mother.
There is lots of clapping required, and we're encouraged to cheer and be super-supportive. But the vibe in the room is charged and you genuinely want to make the dancers feel good as they go out on to the floor and give it their all.
From the relief and elation you see on their faces as they finish their dances, to the quiet moments of disappointment you get glimpses of when things haven't gone so well, this is a show in which its stars are placing themselves well out of their comfort zone and, in doing so, making themselves vulnerable. Some of the harsh public scrutiny they receive is, I think, a little undeserved - especially when you consider the fact they're doing this for charity.
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