Travel: The ‘rapture’ of a trip to Blackpool and the world famous Hot Ice Show
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Like many Scots, I made my yearly trip to the Lancashire seaside resort earlier this week, adding to the abundance of east and west coast accents already in residence; Edinburgh Trades and Glasgow Fair seem fairly flexible these days.
Rapture, this year's extravaganza, finds a 31-strong company of world class skaters, many champions in their own right, display their often breath-taking talents over two magical hours.
Housed in the Pleasure Beach's world famous 2,000 ice arena, the oldest purpose built ice theatre in the world, Rapture starts in suitably dramatic style, flames leaping across the ice ensuring the show lives up to its name from the off - Hot Ice indeed.
Right from the start, it really is a case of 'lights... music... action...' as classic and contemporary meet and meld in an enchanting opening that retells the tale of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. It's sensual and sensational, delivered with an assured flair that sets the bar high for what is to follow.
Against a soundtrack that effortlessly slips between Tchiakovksy and techno trance beats, the strands of this year's spectacle come together. From Romeo and Juliet to Swan Lake - a beautiful piece entitled The Enchanted Swan - and bangin' set pieces such as Euphoria and Utopian, you find yourself gently swaying to the music one minute then tapping your foot furiously the next, as you are caught up in the thrill of seeing bodies speed across the ice while executing mind-blowing choreography.
Musically, it's a mashup masterclass, these tracks shouldn't work together yet they do, brilliantly. The sonorous, almost hypnotic tones of the show's narrator as he weaves his commentary through the scenes is a masterstroke. As are the moments of pure circus. From an admirable display of core strength in the Chinese Pole routine to a graceful silks display, high above the ice, as well as a very sexy 'Bath Boy' aerial performance, there is something for everyone.
Technically, the Hot Ice Show is mind-bending. During the 100-minute performance, there are 320 impossibly fast costume changes, no mean feat on the discovery that there are just two dressers backstage. And talking of costumes, sumptuous, deceptively revealing and glorious in colour and design, they are quite eye-popping.
However, it's the cast who must take the final credit. Their awe-inspiring skill is never more evident than in wonderfully bombastic numbers like We Mesmerise and One Kiss, the latter having hints of a James Bond theme in the making. Throughout, they tease, tempt and occasionally challenge their adoring fans in the audience who clap and cheer in delight at every perfectly executed leap, spin, lift and somersault.
But then, one thing I've learned over years of attending the Hot Ice Show is this, never expect anything less than a five star production from producer Amanda Thomson.
Heading to Blackpool? Rapture runs until September 10, book here.