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Magic Mike Live review at London Hippodrome – ‘a money-maker shaking hit’

The cast of Magic Mike Live at London Hippodrome. Photo: Trevor Leighton

Following its successful run in Vegas, Magic Mike Live delivers exactly what it promises. Housed inside the Hippodrome casino, the strip show’s relation to the 2012 film is tenuous. Both include exhilarating dancing, very fine examples of the male physique and Channing Tatum – though in the stage show co-director Tatum is only present as the disembodied voice of a hallucinatory genie unicorn, summoning women’s wildest fantasies and acting as a safe word to be employed if you want fewer lovely bottoms in your face.

That’s as much narrative as we ever get. There is some nonsense with Sophie Linder-Lee  guiding ‘waiter’ Michelangelo (Sebastian Melo Taveira) to his stripping destiny, but largely this is filler to get us to the next routine.

Despite the complete lack of plot, or indeed point, to the evening’s happenings, Linder-Lee is a grade-A hype woman as mistress of ceremonies, whipping the audience into a frenzy of unabashed lust and riotous giggles.

There has been some debate as to whether Magic Mike Live’s girls-night-out form of objectification is inappropriate in 2018. Contact between dancers and audience comes caveated with an excellent lesson in consent. No one is touched in a way that they aren’t prepared for, or have paid extra to ensure. The opening sketch makes this point well; with its cringey compere (David Morgan), outdated innuendo and debacle with an oversize fireman’s hose, it’s a horrible vision of what this show so easily could have been.

What’s more interesting is how chaste in many ways this night of ‘ultimate fantasy’ actually is. Aside from some gyratory lap-dances, the performance of what women (apparently) ‘truly’ want is pure Disney romanticism. On leaving one woman bemoaned “nearly a hundred quid, and I didn’t see a single penis”.

Routines instead feature audience members being thrown roses, offered tiaras, serenaded and complimented in Italian by these half naked princes. There’s even slow dancing to Ed Sheeran for god’s sake. Only occasionally is the action allowed to descend into pure, joyous filth. An erotic rainstorm routine – a sexed-up version of Fuerza Bruta’s water dance – is a spectacle hot enough to leave the screaming crowd momentarily breathless.

It doesn’t really matter what I or any other critic thinks of Magic Mike Live. The twice-nightly parade of flesh is packed out (with tickets clocking in at £65 to £125 for front row action). With fish bowl cocktails  served throughout by waiters who deserve some special award for circumventing the action with minimal view blocking, it appears this is every inch (pun entirely intended) a money-maker shaking hit.

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A joyous, if utterly meaningless, celebration of the shirtless male form inspired by Channing Tatum’s hit movie