Theatre/Dance/Stripper Review: Magic Mike Live (Hippodrome, London) ★★★

Magic Mike Live, the dance/strip/boylesque show, is an odd night out to be honest. A cast of beautiful dancers, bump and grind for screaming women – and occasionally take most of their clothes off – while the MC shouts femme-positive affirmations at the room.

To call this a ‘strip’ show is to honestly miss the point a bit. As the show’s opening number unveils the male stripper clichés (a fireman, a policeman, a tradesman… yes it’s the Village People for straight women) events are called to a halt so these “male entertainers” can give the women what they “really” want. Which isn’t “a bunch of sexist archetypes slapping their dicks in my face,” according to our female hostess with a, wait for it, magic microphone (Magic Mike… get it?). Honestly, if she doesn’t want it, I’d happily take it.

Gone is the greased up, bow-tie-no-shirt, look of the Chippendales. Instead the “Channing-dales” are more likely to be wearing skintight denim than velcro tuxedo trousers.

And, like Channing Tatum himself (the show’s creator and muse), these men can dance. The show is more like a hip-hop routine from So You Think You Can Dance performed by all your favourite thirst-traps. Magic Mike Live is dance, boy-lesque and aerial acrobatics fuelled by women chugging margarita’s from giant bowls (and wearing a lot of animal print). 

The performers eagerly rush into the audience, dance on tables and on a precarious perspex walkway that runs the rim of the upper balcony, occasionally grabbing an eager punter for a quick lap-dance. And the crowd are loving it! The assembled duos of girlfriends, or mums and daughters, or divorcées and friends have come to see abs and pretty faces and they are not disappointed one bit.

Of course, in the end, this isn’t about a flash of cock or bum (only one bum is actually seen in the whole show), it’s about making women feel great and these men certainly seem to be doing the job. The MC’s banter is positive and dirty at the same time – I’ve never heard the word vagina shouted out so many times in my life, and that includes an amateur performance of The Vagina Monologues.

The show is dirty-ish. Enough to give your mum a shock, but not enough to give your average gay man anything more than a desire to see some go-go dancers. There’s something weirdly sexually chaste about the whole experience. It’s like those bits in a Kylie Minogue concert when Kylie’s getting changed and the dancers take over the stage.

It’s all in the name of good fun of course, and the dancers leave the stage slightly manhandled but not too worse for wear, as most of the audience files out into London’s Leicester Square giggling…and the gays wander up toward Soho for a real night out.

By Chad Armstrong

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