Viva Blackpool, The Jersey Beats

Richard and I spent a weekend in Blackpool celebrating our anniversary (6 years!) and decided to go and see a show at the Viva Blackpool theatre (https://www.vivablackpool.com). Viva present lots of different celebrity or visiting acts but also run their own Vegas-style cabaret shows which include dancers in costumes, singers and a comedic host. There are two of these Viva shows; one which is a tribute to the music of ABBA called Viva Voulez Vous and another called Oh What a Nite!: The Jersey Beats which is a tribute to the music of the Jersey Boys and that era. The ABBA tribute runs regularly on a Thursday evening and The Jersey Beats plays on Tuesdays (and Sundays in July). There is also a Vegas Cabaret spectacular and a magic show by High Jinx aimed at a family audience. There are so many different shows to choose from that you are spoilt for choice! Have a look at what’s on during your visit to Blackpool on https://www.vivablackpool.com/events/. The Viva entrance is pretty easy to find with a rich purple sign and flashing lights and displays (wonderfully Vegas feeling!). It is located on the South Promenade and is right next to the accessible tram stop if you’re using public transport. The building next door is the Vegas Diner which is owned by the same company. This serves American Diner themed food such as burgers, hot dogs, nachos, topped fries and fried chicken. Alternatively, if you want to dine in the theatre whilst viewing the show then you can order a ‘Dinner and Show’ two or three course meal with options such as british beef and portobello mushroom pie, fillet of hake with a tomato, spinach and leek compote or thai vegetable red curry. You can preorder your food when booking your show ticket. 

Our tickets had been reserved in advance so we just had to give our name at the Ticket Office but you could also buy tickets on the door. The ticket booth didn’t have any lowered worktop section but the member of staff stood so he could see me in my wheelchair which was very helpful. There are a set of steps and an escalator to take you up to the higher floor with the shows on but we took the lift which was down the lefthand side. This was spacious and easy to find.   

Prior to entering the theatre and being seated there is a photo opportunity with one of the Viva showgirls. The photographer takes this with his camera and you can buy these photographs at the interval or after the show. I asked if he would mind me taking a photo with my camera (I didn’t realise they were purchasable) and he just replied ‘I do mind’ which was a little off-putting. Perhaps a reply such as ‘sorry, I take the photos and these can be purchased at the interval’ would have been a little more welcoming since he is one of the first staff members you see. However, the gentleman that showed us to our table was really welcoming and helped us navigate the tables with the wheelchair without a problem at all! Our view was slightly to the side of the stage (tables are in an arc around a central stage) but was conveniently not far at all from the very accessible disabled toilet. I wouldn’t worry at all about sourcing a central table as the performers stood far enough forward for us to see the vast majority of the show clearly and easily. If you sit on the front row then the host might involve you in jokes which was really fun but make sure you’ve had a drink or two or naturally have a little sense of humour!  I loved the pink neon lighting as it felt very Vegas and gave the whole theatre a ‘party’ vibe which made it perfect for large groups, celebration gatherings or a memorable date night! The bars were easily accessible by wheelchair but there were also waitresses who served you at the table. I couldn’t see any name badges but the lovely blonde waitress from Poland was particularly helpful and friendly when taking our food and drinks order. We hadn’t pre-booked food but there was still a wide choice of food available to be delivered to your table throughout the performance; Richard enjoyed a beef burger topped with hot beef chilli and cheese with fries whist I opted for cheesy chips. Both our dishes arrived really quickly and were very  tasty!

The show itself was absolutely brilliant; the singing was great and the dancers fabulous in their sparkly costumes. I’ve seen the West End Jersey Boys musical and this show certainly could compete! There was less superfluous dialogue and lots of singing and dancing. I loved the fact that they also included some other songs of the era such as music from Dirty Dancing and Grease. Whilst the dancers and singers were changing costumes, there was a host that came on stage to tell jokes and anecdotes. He was really funny and told a wide range of not very PC jokes; everyone seemed to find some of his jokes funny! It was great as he kept the momentum going between dances so we weren’t just sat there in silence. It gave a great atmosphere and even resulted in some guests standing to dance for the latter half of the show. I thought it was great that he asked people to dance at the outer edges of the room rather than at their table as this didn’t block the view of the stage for those who wanted to remain seated (or had to in my case in the wheelchair!) – a great idea!

I would definitely return to Viva to see another show when I’m next in the area as the whole show was really enjoyable and left Richard and I feeling very uplifted and positive! We loved the music and the choreography and thought the show was very fun!  I would definitely recommend Viva if you’re looking for something to do with a disabled or able-bodied group of people, their variety in shows means there should always be something that suits your particular tastes. The venue was very accessible and the staff generally so helpful and lovely. I enjoyed the show itself greatly and would definitely return!  Thanks Viva; keep sparkling!