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Review: Dancing Hough siblings energize Park City arena

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at 11:28 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at 11:31 p.m.

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The Hough siblings didn’t seem like people who’d been rehearsing for only five weeks – only one of which was free of the distraction of “Dancing With the Stars.”

When they opened their first tour together – a two-hour song-and-dance extravaganza called “Move Live On Tour” – at Park City’s Hartman Arena on Wednesday night, celebrity brother and sister Julianne and Derek Hough danced what seemed like a zillion complicated steps, and if they missed any, it was hard to tell.

Though opening night was not without its occasional hiccup or awkward moment, the sold-out crowd of 3,220 people ultimately surrendered to the urgings of the energetic, absurdly fit Houghs and their cast of 10 backup dancers to move, dance, sway, throw their hands in the air and jump around like crazy people.

The elder sibling, 29-year-old Derek, who just last week finished second on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” with his partner Amy Purdy, appeared genuinely giddy about the response from the crowd.

“This is our first show,” he said near the end of the performance, which includes an intermission. “It’s the first time we’re getting any kind of reaction. And your reaction is pretty tough to beat.”

The show was an ideal spotlight for both Julianne – who at 25 is a “Dancing With the Stars” alumna and two-time champion, has recorded a chart-topping country album and has starred in several movies, including the 2011 remake of “Footloose” and 2012’s “Rock of Ages” – and for her big brother, a five-time winner of the show and an Emmy-winning choreographer.

They danced both together and separately, partnering with each other and with the other dancers on the cast for fast-paced numbers ranging from the tangos and quicksteps their fans see them perform on television to modern numbers set to current pop hits and techno beats.

Julianne, who changed costumes more than a dozen times, showed she hasn’t lost her dance-floor abilities and shined in several numbers, including a moody piece featuring her and one of the male cast members dancing to John Legend’s current hit “All of Me.”

Derek served as the show’s emcee, filling up lots of stage time with chatter while his sister changed clothes, and he also impressed the audience with the intricate, sharp moves he’s become known for on the show.

The siblings, both more-than-decent singers, also belted out several songs, starting with a harmonizing duet of pop ballad “Say Something.” Julianne performed several songs on her own, including a tune she wrote called “What are You Waiting For.” The duo also sang a charming duet of “Anything You can Do (I Can Do Better)” during which they playfully compared their career achievements.

As for the awkward moments? Some of the stage pieces seemed amateurish, including several platforms on wheels covered with black table skirts that the backup dancers rolled to and fro about the stage.

During one number, Julianne could clearly be seen behind a screen being changed into a new costume while Derek and a partner performed a dance. And one of Derek’s numbers, a dance in which he and his five male counterparts stripped their shirts off to reveal their chiseled abs, came off as unintentionally “Chippendale” ridiculous.

During one particularly long costume change for his sister, Derek, admitting that he needed to fill time, delivered a long, rambling sermon about seizing the moment that left everyone squirming.

But he also provided some of the evening’s best moments, including pulling several 50-plus women out of their seats to dance and leaving his sister stranded onstage during final bows as he gleefully pushed a wheelchair-using fan around the floor and posed for just one or two or three more pictures with his screaming fans.

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