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Live Entertainment

Pleasure Beach’s passion for performance

Now wowing audiences for seven decades, this summer’s Hot Ice Show at Blackpool Pleasure Beach was another international affair, with performers from the US to the UK and Canada to Estonia showcasing the best in ice- skating and stylish costumes. Here Pleasure Beach

managing director Amanda Thompson OBE, who has produced and directed every Hot Ice production since 1994, tells Park World why it continues to be one of the British venue’s signature attractions – and how it opens up the park to a wider audience.

Hot Ice 2014 M

y grandfather built the ice rink at the Pleasure Beach back in 1937, and we’ve had a proud skating tradition at the park ever since. Ice skating is one of those amazing sports that transcends into entertainment and art. It’s exciting, it’s fast and it’s very, very difficult because very few people can really balance and do much on a little piece of steel. That’s what makes Hot Ice Show so entertaining, even a little bit daring, to watch. It’s one of those productions that really must be seen to be believed, and each year we work on raising the standard of dramatic ice skating. Passion, the 2014 production, really lives up to this. The biggest thing that changes from year to year is the ability of the cast, because every year the talent of skating becomes greater and greater. When I first started doing the shows, the boys were doing double jumps, now they are doing triples and quads. Most of my cast have performed in the Olympics, these are people who are top of their game and they choose to come and work in Hot Ice because it’s the most demanding and exciting ice show in the world – and probably the most beautifully dressed. We make all the costumes here on site, and I will happily say this year’s show was the best lit too.

I think having a very international cast gives us a unique flavour because you see the different styles of skating from all over the world. Choreographed by former ice champion Oula Jaaskelainen and Commonwealth Games dance captain Lynsey Brown, this year’s production saw the return of Hot Ice favourites Katie Stainsby, Eriq Lyons and Taras Manko plus a number of new faces including Taylor Steele, Michael Chau and Vaughn Chipeur.

A show of two halves As well as the evening show, which runs for approximately 100 minutes, we do a matinee performance. This is a shorter version of the evening show, the first half one day, the second half the next. It’s exactly the same as what you will see in the evening, performed by exactly the same performers, but we offer this to our guests because people don’t always want to sit and watch a show for two hours when they’re out on the park for the day. What’s the perfect length for a park show? How long is a piece of string? I would say if you are 50 years of age your attention span for sitting there watching an ice show would be greater than someone queuing for the Big Dipper. A usual park show will between 20 and 30 minutes, our matinee show is between 40 and 50 minutes. To be honest I think we should have more live entertainment. Over the last 10 to 15 years we have done a lot developing the park with Nickelodeon Land, Wallace & Gromit, Infusion, the hotel and all the other improvements, and sadly that has meant we maybe haven’t had as many shows as we would like. We have lots more places we can put shows, but live entertainment is quite costly because it involves a lot of bodies and I am quite fussy. I would prefer not to do something that is not to my standard, so for the moment I will do one Hot Ice show until I can afford to do other things as well as they need to be done. The most important thing is that we maintain the

quality, because we have got to bring repeat visitors back at different times of year. The good thing about the Hot Ice Show is that it runs for just eight weeks during the summer holidays. That means that some of the people who come to visit the park at Easter or February time, will come back and see the show in summertime. Hot Ice brings people to Pleasure Beach who would not otherwise visit an amusement park, it absolutely does, such as members of the theatre-going public.


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