BWW Review: MAGIC MIKE LIVE, Hippodrome Casino
It's been six years since the release of movie Magic Mike, produced by and starring Channing Tatum as the lead stripper of a Florida strip club. Since then, Magic Mike has spawned a sequel, a live show in Las Vegas in 2017, and now a live show at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, created and directed by Tatum himself.
Thursday evening, and the Matcham Room at the Hippodrome was packed with hundreds of women - and a few men dotted around. Some were eagerly anticipating the upcoming show, while quite a few others were visibly wary and nervous.
Enter MC Sophie Linder-Lee, who brilliantly puts the audience at ease, with her innuendos and conversations with her unicorn spirit guide (who just so happens to sound exactly like Channing Tatum). Linder-Lee reiterated that while there was audience participation throughout the show, if you weren't happy to be grinded on by a young man, just say the safe word 'unicorn' and they'd step away.
There is a vague plotline to the show: Mike (Sebastian Mel Tavier) is a young waiter who wants to learn how to make a woman feel wanted and loved. He learns different methods of seduction thanks to the talented men who accompany him on stage. Choreographers Luke Broadlick and Alison Faulk have together created innovative and exciting routines, which are superbly complemented by Philip Gladwell's spectacular lighting.
There's a lot of talent showcased throughout - and no, that's not a euphemism. From acrobatics with ropes, singing, guitar and piano-playing to dancing, including hip-hop, tap and a stunning water sequence between Mike and Hannah Cleeve - this show has it all. The men (and women) who feature in the production are all phenomenally talented and the mix of music - from "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed SHeeran to "Pony" by Ginuwine - means there's something for everyone.
The audience is, as some might assume, predominantly female, with large groups of women celebrating birthdays or hen parties. Waiters were seen constantly taking orders from each table while women danced in their seats or in the aisles. Female empowerment is a predominant theme and women are constantly told that they're strong, beautiful and powerful. There's even a section which focuses on consent.
It may take a while for some to relax into the show, but the dancers are all respectful and genuinely want to make the women in the audience feel wanted and special. The energy exuded by the men on stage is electrifying, further enhancing the experience and encouraging even the more reserved to eventually try and catch a man's eye. By the end of the night, even those who were seemingly unsure at the start of the evening were clapping and cheering with the best of them.
Channing Tatum himself said that while he's fit and healthy, the dancers in Magic Mike have incredible stamina - although he hasn't ruled out a return to the stage, so there's always the possibility...
Photo Credit: Trevor Leighton