The jean genies of magic

"Magic Mike Live" dancers. Photo: Chris Pavlich Photography/supplied.

The Sentinel‘s arts editor Rita Bratovich went along to Magic Mike Live to see the demons in denim for herself.

Magic Mike Live is one of those shows that is everything you expected and nothing like you expected. Touted as an explosion of sexual energy and glistening, bulking muscle, the show certainly brings testosterone in bucket-loads, but it is also a thoughtful, entertaining, impressive display of extraordinary talent. 

Created by Channing Tatum and loosely referencing its namesake film, Magic Mike Live takes the concept of all-male revue to new heights – sometimes literally. Predictably, there is a lot of suggestive gyration and bare-chested strutting, but at its core is a strong ethos of respect and courtesy – it subverts machismo and champions chivalry. 

The Magic Mike Live experience begins as soon as you enter The Arcadia, a magnificent custom-made spiegeltent designed and built in Belgium especially for the Australian tour. This is a circus tent that has been pimped to the max. When you first enter you are in the bar, replete with booths, high tables and stools, and tables and chairs. The wood finishings, natural hues and subdued lighting give it a certain warmth but also a kind of saloon feel, priming you for the wild action ahead. 

Dancers at bar inside The Arcadia. Photo: Peter Brew-Bevan/supplied.

Beer, wine, cheekily named cocktails and light snacks are all available from the bar. Once inside you can use a QR code to order food and drinks which are delivered to your seat. 

The performance space is a marvel. The arena style seating includes tables and chairs on the floor surrounding the stage, then several tiers with sofas, booths, benches, and tables and chairs. Above this is a circular balcony with more seating and at one end of the room is an impressive double storey bar.

A rectangular stage at the centre is the main focal point but not the only area of activity. Performances take place pretty much everywhere – at a piano at the top of a flight of stairs, on the bannisters and fencing around the balcony, up and down ladders and along walkways, from ropes dangling from the ceiling, and even on a suspended stage that descends from the heavens above for a couple of particularly spectacular acts. The engineering that has gone into this venue is truly amazing. 

And now … are you ready? 

It’s important for a man to make a good entrance and these boys certainly do. By now the audience of mostly (though not exclusively) heterosexual, young, lively women is collectively champing at the proverbial bit, so the parade of sixteen sexy, brawny writhing male dancers is like a match to a powder keg. 

And they do not disappoint. 

Whether or not men are your thing, it is hard not to be in awe of these superbly sculpted bodies and the incredible feats of strength and agility of which they are capable. 

Blake Varga (below) and Max Francisco. Photo: Chris Pavlich Photography/supplied.

With choreography that is as athletic as it is artistic and downright erotic, the Magic Mike Live troupe whips the adoring crowd into a frothing frenzy. There’s a lot of posturing but the performers are not merely animated manequins – they make a genuine effort to connect with the audience.

Together, they move like a single machine. Separately (they all get solo time in the spotlight) they reveal their unique talent and personality. Those talents include playing piano, playing guitar, singing, tap-dancing, aerial stunts, and a strip-tease down to a modestly held hat. One of the highlights of the show is the drummer on a platform that descends from the ceiling. 

The same platform is used again later for what could be the stand-out act – a dance duet featuring Mike (Blake Varga) and ‘mermaid’ (Max Francisco). With water splashing down on them, filling the square bath, they perform a scintillatingly erotic dance to the throbbing beat of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Closer’. 

Erotica is the theme of the night, but it is tempered with romance. During one song, the dancers hand long-stemmed roses to selected members of the audience. It is the stated objective of Magic Mike Live to make everyone feel special. 

Dayton Tavares (piano) and Joshua Williams. Photo: Chris Pavlich Photography/supplied.

And in case they forget that, Amy Ingram, the feisty female MC for this performance, will gently remind them. 

The show actually opens with a male MC who delivers groan-inducing, crass humour. Amy, whose entrance is subtle (no spoilers) is a welcome replacement. She is genuinely funny and adds refreshing contrast and balance to the hormone levels on stage. 

Cover-19 has no doubt muted some of the opportunities for interaction, yet there is still a strong sense of engagement. These boys are brimming with natural charisma. (It must be in their jeans.) 

This show is stunning: fast, fun, frenetic, filthy, fabulous. It will leave you breathless and inform your fantasies. Come with an open mind, leave with wide smile. 

Magic Mike Live continues until Sunday, 4 April at The Arcadia, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Tickets $59 to $159 + booking fee are available from magicmikelive.com.au. All attendees must be aged 18 or over.