The pulling power of theatre can not be underestimated, especially one that is celebrating its 125th year entertaining audiences over many, many decades.
How apt those behind the curtains at the enchanting Grand Theatre, Blackpool chose to mark the occasion in doing what it does best putting on a show; but not just any show, one which would strike a chord in all corners of the globe.
Around the World in 80s Days, the musical- comedy- spectacular was not all an unexpected surprise, such was the enthusiasm and flurry of excitement for the first specially commissioned summer production.
But living up to the expectation is no mean feat, ‘two hours of joy’ Preston writer Ian McFarlane promised.....and he delivered.
Not to mention the cast of six led by Andrew Bentley in the role of Phileus Fogg, while Oliver Mawdsley, Justina Kehinde, Daniel Cane, Christina Meehan and Laurie Denman divvied a wealth of roles between them, with such swift costume and voice changes, a talent in itself.
The lyrical movement and backdrop of the 1980s music on a 1880s story at time was a little bonkers but such a fun piece of storytelling. After all what is an 80s musical without ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and ‘Spin Me Right Round.’
Some of those top tunes were easy to see coming on this musical journey, the passages across the seas from Egypt to Bombay, Japan to America were some of the stand out moments.
Old jokes, new jokes, slapstick, dance, physical theatre, the show pays homage to every theatrical convention of the last 125 years.
Laurie Denman, who doubled as musical director, is to be applauded for the unique mash up of songs and some really clever orchestrations Rick Astley’s ‘Never Going to Give You Up’ goes oriental and “too ra loo rye aye” rings from the stalls to the dress circle.
It’s a whistle-stop world tour the audience really do get on board with, one of those crazy trips, powered by love.
Silly props, masterpiece lighting over-spilling with funny moments (quite literally) take the imagination to the edge, the trick is when you’ve got people laughing, make sure you give them more.
The golden anchor would be to see this show get to that next level, capable of sailing away to further shores.
For now we’re more than happy to have it on home-turf.
Buy a ticket and jump aboard.
The Grand Theatre until August 31.