The Blackpool Grand Theatre is celebrating its 125th birthday this year and as part of the celebrations they have formed their own theatre company, Blackpool Grand productions Ltd. And I was honoured to be invited to the premiere of their first in-house show, Around The World In 80s Days.
I had never been to the Grand Theatre plus as the title of the show suggests something different, I was looking forward to getting my glad rags on and getting to see all the fun and glory. A very unique production. The famous story by Jules Verne deconstructed and retold with a huge collection of classic 80s songs.
There was a great buzz around the theatre. Chatting to the wonderful Su Pollard before the show began it was certainly clear she was excited at the prospect of this unique show.
Onto the performance and can honestly say it was 2 hours of fun, lots of laughs, great music, and superb performances. This is a show that is completely unique and in an absolutely great way. What’s more is that much of the cast and the director are local born and bred.
The writer and director, Ian McFarlane, who hails from Preston and the way he and the cast have interwoven the ‘lots’ of classic 80s music yet keep a compelling story is testament to their talents and shows some great work that has gone into this fun production.
With so many scenes and so many songs I had to keep reminding myself there were only 6 actors throughout. Costume changes galore along with different actors playing different roles, you could see a tremendous amount of talent on display for sure! The combination of singing, acting, choreography, puns, jokes new and old created a show that is pure escapism and will be for people with many tastes. If you love 80s music then you will know every single song.
The take on Around The World In 80 Days in this case is mostly through song. Some you can see coming and are used to tell the story, like when the ship they are on is called Eileen, and it needs get a move on 😉 Plus others are solo performances with some great flashes of comedy in the background from the others. Gold!
There are also some great reworkings of the classics eg, Walk Like An Egyptian. In fact I don’t want to give too many spoilers away as you need to see it yourselves and enjoy it.
As for the cast, each of the 6 personalities brought something really unique to the performance. The main character Phileas Fogg, or in this case, Phil, is played by Andrew Bentley who holds the central character great with his experience and the jokes, even old corny ones are timed superb.
There is Oliver Mawdsley as the French Passepartout, who is a big part of the comedic value. Then there is Justina Kehinde who is making a debut but has a truly amazing voice and stage prescence! A couple of solos within the show for herself and the emotion was high. This will not be the last we hear of Justina.
Daniel Cane has the job of the pantomime-esque villain but can be seen in a whole wrath of roles throughout. Local actress Christina Meehan is treading the boards in her hometown here too in a whole plethora of roles, truly comedic and serious too. Laurie Denman stars in but also is the musical director and choregrapher. Every character he plays in this production cannot fail to bring a smile.
After the show it was wonderful to mingle with not just the cast but others involved with this fun show. After Party time.
This a show that would be fun for all the family, not just 80s fans. Cheeky humour, fast moving, lots and lots of music you know and love plus a nod to a classic story. It is only showing on selected dates throughout August so don’t miss the chance if you want to. Tickets can be purchased at the Grand Theatre Blackpool. Oh, and happy 125th birthday to you.