***** STARS

By Jessica Taurins

Magic Mike Live – loosely themed around the Channing Tatum film series of the same name (with less drugs!) – is a beautiful, wondrous, spectacular Mecca for girls and gays alike. Not to say that hetero men aren’t welcome, but without a little exploratory spirit, there’s not too much in this performance to keep your attention for long!

The show is housed in the gorgeous custom-built Arcadia spiegeltent, with a wide open welcoming foyer and a huge bar for some cheeky pre-show drinks. While it’s a little chilly in winter, the location along the Yarra River in Melbourne would be absolutely gorgeous for a pre-show stroll and to get in the mood to see some of the stunning men on display.

As for the show itself, well, it really is what it says on the box. The performance opens with a cheeky reference to old-school strippers: creepy middle-aged MCs and tacky dollar-store cowboy costumes, although the men would look good in pretty much any costume (or lack thereof!). Pretty quickly we’re transported into the new realm of stripping – laid-back, casual, relatable guys in jeans and t-shirts, who happen to have tree trunk thighs and abs upon abs upon abs.

There is a thin little story running throughout the performance as a former Arcadia bartender named Mike – ha ha – is taught to be a dancer and a lover by the rest of the cast. It’s really not the kind of show that needs a story though, and it’s definitely for the best that they lean heavily into their main attraction (of which there are multiple) rather than trying to thread some kind of narrative into the show.

All of the performers – including one woman, who’s the most talented ‘random audience member pick’ I’ve ever seen! – are trained dancers and most have spent years performing alongside pop stars, on TV talent shows, and sometimes even as vacuum cleaner models. Their skills, and bodies of course, are on passionate display during the show as they shake their well-rounded booties across various performance surfaces. There are plenty of opportunities to be up close and personal with some of the guys as they wiggle across bar tables and mingle into the crowd – though the staff and MC are careful to remind some of the more handsy ladies that the guys are for looking only, and not touching!

Going above and beyond a traditional stripper show, Magic Mike Live has it all. Well, not all, as there’s only ever a hint of full frontal, but in terms of skills the guys are allowed to show it all off. One of them tap dances across the stage, a group of them perform in a cute little band, one of them serenades the ladies just to make them all swoon. There are heated moments, but also moments of intense sweetness, and each guy has his own little personality coming through in every movement.

Contrary to the generic idea of a male stripper power fantasy, these guys flip between aggressively masculine and sweet date material on a dime. Some vignettes involve them throwing themselves across the stage, pantsless, as club music plays in the background. In others, the guys are fully clothed (in extremely well-fitting outfits, so still sexy!) and definitely give off a Man-You-Could-Take-Home-To-Mum vibe. There’s a guy for every single person in the audience, which is the best sort of way to experience such a smorgasbord of men. (Speaking of guys for everyone… Jake Paul Green, you long-haired drummer you: if you ever see this, I’m sure I could convince my boyfriend to give me a night off from our relationship if you were ever free.

(I’m kidding! … or am I.)

Magic Mike Live is such delightful, semi-brainless fun, and would be a fantastic night out for any group looking for a bit of raunchy enjoyment. It is probably more suited to a hen’s night or similar affair, but while its core offering is pretty much what you’d expect, it is delivered with enough class that I could probably take my mum and we’d both have a pretty good time. Absolutely well worth the trip into the city, even on these frosty nights we’re having!