REVIEW: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (Grand Theatre, Blackpool) ★★★★

Around The World In 80 Days is written and directed by Ian McFarlane, has been specially commissioned and produced by the Grand Theatre in Blackpool, as part of the theatre’s 125th Anniversary celebrations.

This musical comedy is based loosely on the novel by Jules Verne but accompanied by music from the 1980s. The story follows the adventures of Phil Fogg (Andrew Bentley) who after having been cut off from his family’s wealth he sets out to seek his own fortune by accepting a bet from a member of the Reform Club to circumnavigate the world in 80 days. He is accompanied on his adventures by Frenchman Passepartout (Oliver Mawdsley), whose character contributes massively to the comedy.

Along the way Phil meets (and falls in love with) archaeologist Akilah (Justina Kehinde) and encounters the villain Professor Gold (Daniel Cane) – you just know which 80s song is going to come up sometime! Gold!

The show is packed with hit songs from the 1980s. The Musical Director Laurie Denman also plays several roles and I think is the choreographer of some of the great dance moves. Some of my favourites are Respectable, You Spin me Round, Eye of the Tiger but all are so reminiscent of the era and cleverly or cornily) worked into the story.

The show is extremely funny in a pantomime kind of way with the audience asked to sing along to aid the HMS Eileen as she struggles in stormy seas (which everyone did). No prizes for guessing what the song was!

Highlights for me were the excellent vocals of Justina Kehinde, especially her heartfelt rendition of I Want to Know What Love Is and the many funny roles played by Christina Meehan notably her performance of Walk Like an Egyptian.

Around The World In 80 Days is fast- paced and it is hard to believe there is a cast of just 6 playing the many roles. It is very entertaining and a must for anyone with a love of 80s music to be reminded of these great songs. I strongly recommend a visit to the beautiful iconic theatre where the front-of-house staff are always welcoming and helpful. Also the salted caramel ice cream at the interval was delish!

Reviewed by Elizabeth Cowell