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Funny Girls, review

Paul Clarke takes a trip to Blackpool for some girls who are boys

Published on April 26th 2011.

Funny Girls, review

ONLY A faded but still proud seaside resort like Blackpool could be home to Britain’s most popular drag burlesque show, Funny Girls.

Now in its 17th year, Funny Girls has gone from a backstreet venue to part of the local entertainment establishment because this show personifies the Blackpool ethos - brash, proud and pure showbiz.
As you come off the M55, you're well advised to switch off any cultural sensibilities as you're not about to witness high art. In fact, if Alan Yentob watched Funny Girls, he'd probably implode with metropolitan indignation at such a spectacle.

But for those who like their shows unashamedly camp, Funny Girls is the perfect antidote for the misery around us. The premise is simple, five beautiful drag queens lip-syncing to camp classics as they whirl through some very slick dance routines. 

It sounds a bit grim, especially if you’ve seen some of the crap drag acts around our city, but this show is in a different league to foul-mouthed acts in badly fitting wigs. It's professionally performed by trained dancers in well choreographed routines and as good as many of the touring shows that come through Leeds. 

The tongue in cheekversion of Beyonce's Put a Ring on It - complete with joke padded bottom - was amusing especially when her wig went flying.

For a start, owner Basil Newby spent a fortune converting the former Blackpool Odeon into an art deco extravaganza capable of holding more than 1,000 punters. But the real money is thrown into a stage show that is awash with extravagant costumes and polished routines.
The opening routine is a wild tribute to Cher and X-tina as the girls - and their four talented male sidekicks - lip-sync their hits in tight fitting, shimmering numbers. It’s a clever move as it is sets the tone for the rest of the show and removes any residual snobbery.
A clever Busby Berkeley tribute showcases the subtle side of the choreography and is followed by the only routine that jars somewhat - a slightly crazed Riverdance that interrupts the flow of the show and - frankly, you can’t really outcamp Michael Flatley.
The tongue in cheekversion of Beyonce's Put a Ring on It - complete with joke padded bottom - was amusing especially when her wig went flying. The show concludes with a rapidfire Beatles routine that cleverly references Yellow Submarine, an energetic disco shuffle and a finale that sets a world record for the number of feather boas on one stage. It is a riot of colour and feathers that will never be equalled, even in Las Vegas.

The whole thing is held together by compere DJ Zoe who has been there since the start and it shows in her classy patter with a very mixed crowd. Note to drag queens everywhere - swearing at the audience and being crude is neither sophisticated nor entertaining.

fg2.jpgIt's obvious Funny Girls isn't intended to be an intellectual experience but the dancers are well drilled in a hugely entertaining production that captures both the essence of Paris reviews and the saucy postcards still available along the Golden Mile. 

In these austere times, if you want a show that'll put a smile on your face and doesn’t cost a fortune then it's worth making the short trip to what is still Britain’s greatest seaside resort to immerse yourself in the campest show on the planet.
* Funny Girls run every night except Mondays - throughout the Summer Season and booking details are available from 08442472665 or www,funnygirlsonline.co.uk.

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