Find Winter Sun in Party Island Fun

The World Premiere of brand new musical Last Night a DJ Saved My Life starring the legendary David Hasselhoff at The Winter Gardens Blackpool opened on Friday 16 October with a fanfare of pumping old-school rave music, set to a backdrop of Ibiza sunsets and with a large amount of tongue-in-cheek Hoffness that had the 3,000-strong audience literally dancing in the aisles waving their glow-sticks.

On entry you are greeted by an onstage warm-up guy who checks you’re ready to play your part when it comes to the ‘Whoa’ bits in the Vengaboys song ‘We’re going to Ibiza’, which ensures you get into the cheesy-party mindset and builds the anticipation for arrival of international megastar David Hasselhoff.

The story is, as is the case with most ‘Jukebox Musicals’,  flimsy, starting at a UK airport we’re introduced to the stock characters of bimbo girly holiday-makers Shazza and Amber, shady character Ebenezer returning to the party island and cheeky chappie 18-30 holiday rep Rik played by chip-off-the-old block Shane Richie Jnr. Then we meet Penny; face, mind and voice (as attested to by BBC’s The Voice judges of which Stephanie Webber was a contestant) of an angel, body and dress-sense of a more hell-bound creature, who is travelling to see her estranged father Ross.

Of course, Ross is none other than The Hoff and he is welcomed on stage with uncontainable whoops and cheers from the audience and such is our close affinity to this celebrity that there are unprompted moments of dialogue between us and him. He plays his confused dad, aging rocker,  Nirvana Nightclub owner role with great aplomb, humour and flair and the brilliantly technical set is even populated with moments of younger Hoff footage which at times supports the story, at other moments is just plain old indulgence and oh how we indulged! Slimline glittery pants, low buttoned shirts, glinting smiles and even a beach scene when he dons the old lifeguard garb for old times’ sake – all were lapped up and loved and made the night one of great entertainment. The only slight distraction to his well-crafted machismo being a limp from a mystery injury that has obviously led to certain last-minute staging changes – we wish him a speedy recovery.

Ex-Holly Oaks star Kim Tiddy plays Ross’s much younger live-in-lover Mandy and proves that she has hidden singing and dancing talents. Supported by Head of Security Ebeneezer who turns out to have a sideline in drug dealing and is played by Barry Bloxham with great panto-villain style. Actor Tam Ryan swiftly becomes an audience favourite with his ‘Buttons’ style Spanish bar-tender Jose. Much of his heavily accented dialogue is reminiscent of Manuel from Fawlty Towers and subsequently there are some genuinely funny moments!

The fact that the show has a formulaic feel to it, comes as no surprise when you find out it has been written and directed by Jon Conway; the brains behind 1970s themed Boogie Nights, David Essex musical All The Fun of the Fair and the modern day Pantomime formula that was produced at most regional venues courtesy of QDos – his partnership with Nick Thomas – throughout the noughties.

The music in this show is amazingly uplifting and, if you were ever even on the edges of that early 90s rave scene somewhat unexpected as although the usual suspects feature from Tiffany to Take That and Bryan Adams to Whigfield, there’s also a series of full-on House Music classics and a rare treat of The Shamen’s Ebenezer Goode which Bloxham hams up gloriously. The songs are well chosen and support the narrative in a way that doesn’t feel too shoe-horned and the company performed both vocally and physically with great skill and high-energy.

Before heading off on a UK Tour, Last Night a DJ plays in Blackpool until 1 November on Tuesday to Sunday evenings at 7.30pm with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2.30pm, prices range from £39.50-£20 for adults and are available from The Winter Gardens website. There is also an offer for children to go free during October out there.

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    Melanie Whitehead is the Creative Director of The Old Electric, Blackpool's newest theatre. She previously worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

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