Review - Utopian, the Hot Ice Show, Blackpool Pleasure Beach
PUBLISHED: 17:33 05 July 2019
Don't read this review if you want a detailed and knowledgeable account of the moves, techniques and skills that are on display in this year's Hot Ice show at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
There's no point going any further if you want to find out about the punishing training schedule the skaters must follow, the ins and outs of the choreography or the names of the various jumps, spins, leaps and twists the skaters perform.
But do read on if you want to know that the show is a riot of music, colour, spectacular costumes and incredible athleticism.
I may not have known the names of all the moves, but I am uniquely positioned to review the show: as someone who spent a couple of school trips many years ago clinging to wall by the side of the ice at the rink in Blackburn, and who once performed a move only previously seen in the figure skating world championships on a wintry street in Lancaster. Let's see how graceful the Hot Ice cast are when they realise there's a bus coming.
There were plenty of people in the Pleasure Beach Arena, of course, who did appreciate the finer detail of the performance, applauding, cheering and whooping at appropriate moments.
And there were plenty, like me, who sat open-mouthed and incredulous as another skater was hoisted into the air and carried horizontally at high speed by a man balancing on a millimetre or so of steel. On ice. Or performed a front flip and skated away nonchalantly, like that's something people do all the time. On ice. Or span at dizzying speed in time with the people rotating either side of them. On ice. Or… well, you get the picture.
Putting shows on ice has become quite the thing in recent years but they've been doing it in Blackpool for more than 80 years and the experience shows. It's a confident, punchy show featuring 31 - at least I think there were 31, they kept moving at such a speed it was hard to count them - skaters from all over the world.
Seasoned Hot Ice fans will recognise one or two numbers, but most of the Utopian show and costumes are new. And those costumes! The feather headdresses show what birds could have achieved if they'd only thought a little more flamboyantly - think peacocks given a makeover by Vivienne Westwood. It'd be impressive enough to make your way along a catwalk in one of those but to move like these people do and to make it look so graceful and effortless is remarkable. And - I'll remind you again - they do it on ice.
To be picky, some of the timing was a little off at times and there were a couple of tumbles, but it was opening night - many of the skaters had their families in and there were bound to be nerves. Don't let it put you off - go, and be captivated.
* Utopian is on at the Pleasure Beach Arena until September 7. For tickets, go to blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/shows or call 0871 222 9090 (13p a minute).