Dancing Queen took to the stage as part of Blackpool Grand Theatre’s "MusicFest16 " which features 6 weeks of entertainment ranging from Rock and Pop to Blues and Ballads from various artists.
With Dancing Queen being the title of one of the well known songs from one of the most popular groups of the 70's don't be misled by the name, this show is not all ABBA. The first half concentrates on music of the 70's with opening songs associated to Earth, Wind and Fire such as 'September', ' Groove Tonight' and 'Boogie Wonderland' and performed by two female vocalists, supported by two guitarists, drums and keyboard. Sadly I am unable to name individually as there was no literature available, introductions on stage referred only to first names or character names and upon researching their own website its apparent this has not been updated.
Continuing with more 70's songs the audience were asked if there were 'any ABBA fans out there?' to loud cheers of yes, and we were told one more song to go....however the show continued with Barry Whites' 'Your My First, My Last, My Everything' and a medley of other songs of various artists. At this stage of the show I was feeling a little disheartened and looking around it did not feel as though everyone was fully involved in the music and there was more fun being had by the band than the audience.
Everyone then left the stage which spoilt the flow of the show as were left wondering what was going on until the men returned one by one and dressed as the members of the T Birds from the popular 1978 film Grease. With the addition of a male vocalist they launched into the title song 'Grease' with The two female singers then joined them on stage as Rizzo and Sandy performing 'Summer Nights' followed by great renditions of 'Sandra Dee' and 'Hopelessly Devoted to You'. The audience were beginning to warm up and many joined in with arm moves to ' Grease Lightning' and singing along to 'You're the One That I Want'.
After a brief interval the band returned as an Abba tribute and were given a warm welcome.
Wearing authentic costumes as worn by ABBA for the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest it was a delight to hear 'Waterloo,' the song which actually won the Eurovision and it was given an enthusiastic response. More hits followed with 'Honey Honey', ' Ring Ring', and the ever popular 'Winner Takes it All' and 'Gimme Gimme Gimme ', amongst a few of them. By now Dancing Queen had the audience with them and there was plenty of singing along and arm swaying without being encouraged to do so as was the case in the first half of the show. Each song was introduced by the girls as ABBA stars, Agnetha and Anni-Frid talking in dubious Swedish accents as did Benny and Bjorn which although in keeping with ABBA, it was difficult to relate to as we had previously got to know them in the first half. Keeping the pace and enrapturing the audience hit after hit followed with dancing in the aisles in the stalls, although not upstairs in the circle. There were several costume changes taking us back to the outrageous and glam style of the 70's with a particularly 'cheeky' outfit worn by Anni-Frid ..... an item of clothing forgotten which left nothing to the imagination, but as the saying goes, the show must go on and like a 'Super Trooper' Anni-Frid continued until a suitable moment to nip off and return in full costume. Well done, many would have been mortified but the situation was handled well like a true professional!
Closing the show to 'Dancing Queen' there was a party atmosphere and an encore of 'Thank You For The Music' brought everyone to their feet.
Overall I feel the show was a little slow to get interaction from the audience at first and seemed a little disjointed and although the Grease section was good, perhaps concentrating on just an Abba tribute as that appeared to be what was wanted and expected and would really set Dancing Queen as one not to miss. The second half was really one for the 'Money, Money, Money' and one to 'Take a Chance On (Me)'
Dancing Queen continues at Blackpool Grand each Monday until the 22nd August with a final show on Saturday 27th August. For further show information at the Grand contact: https://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/dancing-queen/
Reviewer: Lorna Weekes
Reviewed: 25th July 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★