Blackpool has always had a great reputation for shows attractions, amusements and many other forms of entertainment. Blackpool shows represent the continuation of a tradition extending back over half a century of seaside variety with origins in the musical hall incorporating a combination of comedy, singing and dancing acts. For many years comedy and variety shows have attracted large audiences to theatres in the resort and popular television stars would also perform summer seasons. The resort featured the greatest stars of their day and to perform in Blackpool was often considered to be an important time in an artiste’s career. The stars of the future might also be discovered performing in Blackpool shows and in the thriving club scene. Established performers would top the bill during a summer season in the Blackpool. Many famous names have appeared in the theatres including Lily Langtry, Arthur Askey, George Formby, Charlie Chaplin, Gracie Fields, Tom Jones, and Ken Dodd. Blackpool shows continue to offer variety acts that appeal to audiences of all ages. Performers who were well known to viewers from appearing on television have starred in Blackpool providing visitors with the opportunity of seeing their favourites live on stage. Cannon and Ball, Little and Large, Russ Abbott and many other acts have been hugely popular both on television and in theatres. In more recent years there seems to have been something of a decline in televised variety with increasing emphasis on reality TV shows which less easily translate into seaside presentations. Blackpool Shows still have enduringly popular artistes such as Chubby Brown and Joe Longthorne who have regularly starred in the resort. There are in addition tribute shows such as Legends which have a wide audience appeal. Blackpool also presents famous musicals such as Cats, and Evita, and during the festive season there are traditional Christmas pantomimes. Blackpool Pleasure Beach has presented spectacular shows such as Hot Ice and Mystique, and in the 2009 programme in the Horshoe Showbar will include Ken Webster and the Grumbleweeds. Burlesque Revealed in Paradise is a new specially designed production at the Pleasure Beach. Blackpool Tower Circus is always a firm favourite. Hotels, pubs and clubs in the resort frequently offer entertainment. Blackpool has some famous venues for presenting shows and other theatrical, productions. The grand theatre dates back to 1894 and was designed by Frank Matcham who is widely acknowledged to be the most distinguished theatrical architect of his time. The theatre is a grade 11 listed building and is often referred to as ‘Matcham’s Masterpiece’. It can seat an audience of 1100 people and in 2006 was named National Theatre of Variety for the UK. Blackpool Grand Theatre has presented numerous great shows ranging from Shakespearean plays, British comedies and American musicals. Blackpool Opera House is part of the Winter Gardens complex and is one of the most well known theatres in the UK. It is also the largest theatre in the country with seating for an audience of nearly 3,000. Internationally renowned performers such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Judy Garland have performed in the Opera House and it has also presented musicals such as Grease and Cats. The magnificent Empress Ballroom is another venue in the Winter Gardens and it has been the setting for important conferences and music concerts including performances by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Oasis. The Empress Ballroom hosts the hugely popular World Matchplay Darts Tournament which has taken place each year in Blackpool since 1994. Other venues for shows in the resort include the theatres on North and Central Piers.
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