Spectacular on Hot form

Hot Ice show 2012 - green
Hot Ice show 2012 - green
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Hot Ice 2012 - The Arena, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

FOR a 75-year-old the annual ice extravaganza at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is still looking pretty sprightly.

All right, like the rest of us it doesn’t run as long as it used to, but it still scrubs up remarkably well and with a cast of more than 30, manages to put much of what’s left of Blackpool’s summer season shows in the shade.

Dancing On Ice has done wonders for the public perception of skating (not a Minnie Mouse in sight) but, although it has provided several partners for television’s celebrities to perform with, including Katie Stainsby back with this year’s cast, Hot Ice remains an ensemble production.

Soloists may well perform their back somersaults, duets may feature gravity-defying spins and turns and leaps but, as David Cameron would have us believe, they’re all in this together, so no named curtain calls, no details of just who is doing what, no special treatment no matter how many medals they may have collected (eg six times Australian ice champion Trent Nelson-Bond or UK international gold medallist David Walsingham).

Produced and directed as ever by Amanda Thompson, with choreography by Antony Johns and former cast regular Oula Jaaskelainen, this latest fusion of skating and athleticism is as skilful, splendid and fast moving as ever – even if there’s an increasing emphasis on Las Vegas glitter, rather than cutting edge excitement these days.

To that end the constantly changing costumes are truly magnificent – sometimes positively breathtaking – and the soundtrack is as ever an impressive mixture or of rock, pop, jazz, funked-up classics and even big band swing.

Flames and flying flags add to the atmosphere, as do beating drums and rock band lasers, and Pleasure Beach show veterans will notice several numbers dusted down and converted from the extensive Stageworks Worldwide back catalogue of productions such as Forbidden and Eclipse.

It means this is no longer simply an ‘ice show’.

Indeed, at one stage, a dozen of the cast are actually suspended above the rink’s surface on silks, while Russia’s Alexey Kofanov reveals the first of his many non-skating skills – which also include an eye-watering pole dance and another chance to see his remarkable bath routine, made famous in the cult cabaret show Soap.

Whilst some Hot Ice regulars may miss the fun element of old, few can deny that once again this is an internationally-themed show which could be exported anywhere, and is a boon to Blackpool’s summer line-up.

Robin Duke