'I dare you to leave without a smile on your face' - Around the world in 80s days at Blackpool's Grand Theatre | Review
Blackpool's Grand Theatre staged Around the world in 80s days (you see what they did there) and I would dare you to leave the historic theatre without a smile on your face.
The literary work of Jules Verne and 80s music is not an obvious combo but apply the vivid imaginings of writer/director (Preston's) Ian McFarlane, Laurie Denman's musical arrangements, a super-talented cast, fast-paced staging, an extremely creative use of props (my favourite was the umbrella jelly-fish) and you score a winner.
The audience was delighted as the eight-strong cast raced through the bare bones of the famous story, which was laced with many an 80s reference, lyrical puns and creative injection of 80s smash hits into the storyline.
Quite how the cast kept up with costume changes and challenging musical numbers and energetic prop shifting is a mystery but they kept the audience riveted and fully engaged with a smattering of enthusiastic audience participation and running around in the aisles.
The production tells the story of Phileas Fogg or 'Phil', the spoiled London aristocrat who gets cut off without a penny and is forced to take up a bet he can travel the world in eighty days to win £20,000 and start buying Prosecco again. Ditched by the fiancee who only wanted him for his money, he embarks on his quest via, boat, rail and of course - hot air balloons.
Alastair Hill pays the likeable Fogg as he travels across the world with his faithful sidekick Passepartout (Oliver Hill) who helps him tackle the baddie Professor Gold (Ben Watson) and find love with Harlow Hayes (Sophia Lewis).
Within the performance itself are some remarkable standout vocal performances including Ben Watsons rendition of 'Gold' which easily gave Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp a run for his money. Alistair Hill and Sophia Lewis also raised the roof with Foreigner's 'I want to know what love is' and the ensemble version of 'Everybody wants to rule the world' (Tears for fears) is a highlight.
There is musically something for everyone, even the youngsters recognised The Locomotion, The Loveshack and that song from the Proclaimers. The audience had a ball singing along.
It's on for another week - escape the rain and enjoy a night of singalong escapism courtesy of the 80s.
Find out when it's on and how much tickets cost.Cast list (may vary)
Alastair Hill – Phil Fogg
Oliver Mawdsley – Passepartout
Sophia Lewis – Harlow Hayes
Ben Watson – Professor Gold
Laurie Denman – Ensemble
Christina Meehan – Ensemble
Andrew Davison – Ensemble / Swing
Eden Mclean-Elliot – Ensemble / Swing