When I say Magic Mike you automatically think of sexy men, incredible dancing and Channing Tatum and with the live show, that’s pretty much exactly what you get.*
*Although Channing Tatum isn’t guaranteed.
Magic Mike Live is coming to Australia in May this year and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the show. So I did what any sensible person would do and decided to take my cousin, who’s a lesbian, to a male strip show, and recap the entire experience.
The similar shows I’ve seen before are usually set inside a dingy showroom right at the back of your local RSL, and they tend to showcase the assumed women’s fantasy: a man in uniform, a cowboy or even Tarzan. But somehow Magic Mike Live has flipped the script completely; first, by being set inside a purpose-built tent which makes you feel like you’re Alice in a 50 Shades Of Grey-style Wonderland, and second, by tapping into the deeper desires of every single woman in the room.
Unlike anything I’ve seen before, Magic Mike Live has a strong feminist leading lady to guide you through the night making sure you feel comfortable, respected and get a good old belly laugh too.
The creative geniuses behind Magic Mike Live, Alison Faulk, Teresa Espinosa and Luke Broadlick, told Mamamia where the idea came from.
“That’s Channing’s idea. When we did the Magic Mike movies, he was always asking why hasn’t this changed or evolved since he’d been doing it. We did research, we went to some of those other shows to see where the bar was set and we said okay we can do better.”
“The thing that Channing was so smart in doing was that he asked a LOT of women their opinions. He was like ‘I’m a dude, I don’t know what ladies want’, so he got a big team of women involved to help make this show what it is now.”
As the show unfolds, Lexi the MC proceeds to delve inside every woman’s idea of the perfect man and make them appear right before our eyes. A sensitive musician, a sexy tradie with a kind heart, a well-accomplished CEO who pays his women equally and even ladies… a man with a puppy. Swoon.
And then there’s Mike…
After being hurled on stage, and straight in between the legs of our MC, his facial expression doesn’t differ much from that of a deer caught in headlights, and we soon find out the humble waiter Mike is set to be the star of our show.
And so begin his lessons in what women really want.
But wait, Mike – before that, can you please come over, rip off my cousin’s shoe and give her a foot rub? Thanks.
Right, where were we? Ahh yes, half-naked men.
For the rest of the night, we’re treated to the incredibly talented and incredibly sexy cast showing Mike exactly how it’s done.
Apart from the fact that there were men without shirts on and lap dances happening all around the room, I wouldn’t even categorise this as a strip show. Because… damn these boys can dance.
Cast members, brothers and Dubbo locals, Charles and Anthony Bartley told Mamamia what it’s like being a man of Magic Mike Live.
“We spent two weeks in a studio just learning the choreography and the A-Z of the show, and then we’ve spent almost three weeks now in the tent taking that, putting it all together and getting comfortable with it all before we hit Australian shores.”
“This is the first time we’re going to experience a lot of women in this space, and the vibe of the crowd can differ from chair to chair. So we actually have to be really engaged with each woman and reading them as we go because every lady’s different. Just because one group of friends is rowdy, there could be a lady in that group that doesn’t want to be touched, she just wants to watch and we respect that.”
And yes, I went there, I even asked the boys if they themselves get a little bit aroused while performing…
“I’ve definitely thought about it, but in my role as Mike, I have less interaction with the crowd than the other boys do. There is a number when I’m dancing very closely with Max, our female aerialist, and I just have so much going through my mind as a performer; Is the girl safe? Is she comfortable? Is my sweat dripping on you? Am I smiling enough? What’s my foot doing? Am I going to slip?
“So as a dancer my mind’s too preoccupied with that, it’s fun don’t get me wrong but I’m too concentrated on my performance,” said Anthony Bartley, AKA Magic Mike himself.
Watching Magic Mike Live, there’s literally something for everyone.
At one point, there are cast members performing aerial stunts, climbing ladders or popping up on balconies all around the tent, making sure no one in the audience misses out. Throughout the show, the cast interacts with the audience through eye contact, smiling and even asking the women in the crowd if they’re feeling comfortable and having a good night.
And if they’re turned down for a lap dance? No problems, they respect that woman’s decision and move on.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Magic Mike Live if they didn’t make you feel very hot under the collar at least a few times during the night.
I’m talking Christian Grey style acrobatics, hanging from ropes in the ceiling like something from Cirque du Soleil. Plus a scene that’s aptly named ‘wet dreams’ – that if you’re sitting in the first couple of rows will leave you a little bit wet and with a brand new girl crush.
You’re also treated to the other talents of the cast, who show off their musical skills in an audience-wide serenade to some incredible tap dancing, and remind us just how much we all love seeing every single man wearing the hell out of a suit.
And before you even ask, the answer is yes these men are real, their abs are real, their talent is real and they’re also just as nice and respectful as they seem.
“It’s so important that they are good people because this environment is so sexually charged that we have to make sure that they’re responsible and caring and respectful,” I was told during my chat with said Alison Faulk, Teresa Espinosa and Luke Broadlick.
“It’s so important to us that every person that comes to this show has a really great experience and the worst thing would be to have this beautiful show, these great dancers and then some guy walks up to you being all creepy. We feel like all of these men have really good intentions and they understand the message of the show and they all have really good hearts.”
All in all, Magic Mike Live was in no way what I was expecting and definitely not what my cousin was expecting!
I left with newfound friendships – shout out to the two ladies sitting next to us – as well as sore cheeks from laughter, a sense of empowerment and an appreciation for the pure talent of the entire cast.
Magic Mike Live takes over Melbourne from May this year and heads to Sydney in November. You can get your tickets here.
Rachael Hart – 2020