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By STACIA BRIGGS
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
If I had to review the Thursford Christmas Spectacular in one word, I’d borrow the adjective from its title: this show is indisputably spectacular.
Every single detail is covered: even the 1,500-seat auditorium is like fairyland with masses of twinkling lights, carousel horses hanging from the ceiling next to gigantic baubles, cascading rainbow chandeliers and a real, 100-year-old merry-go-round.
Putting the “variety” in “variety show”, this year’s tour de force involves an ensemble of more than 120 performers and features an astonishing 80 pieces of music – there’s snow, doves, monkeys stepping out of spaceships, balloons, a can-can fit for Moulin Rouge, Unchained Melody played on bagpipes, luminous drummers, juggling, comedy… it’d be easier to list the performance genres that aren’t spanned at Thursford.
This year’s show has cost more than £3 million to stage and it’s easy to see why.
The stage is as long as a railway platform and the show played out on it races along like a high-speed locomotive – not a second of performance time is wasted, I can only imagine the blurred scenes of swift costume changes in the dressing rooms.
Throughout, Thursford stalwart Phil Kelsall is a star turn on a vintage Wurlitzer which, Vincent Price-style, rises and sinks into the floor – at one point, gigantic screens illustrate just how dexterous Mr Kelsall is as his hands and feet skitter across the instrument’s keyboard and pedals.
Paul Adams is a warm, engaging and genuinely funny host, although there’s no need to warm up the crowd for the acts that follow him – the atmosphere inside the theatre is incredible, like a crowd-sourced cure for the winter blues.
Picking out highlights in a fast-paced, jam-packed show such as this is difficult, but I’ll try.
I loved the shrieking can-can dancers, the songs performed by the superb choir from within the audience, the ABBA Barbershop routine, the jazz band, the Golden Jubilee tribute ending with a red, white and blue-clad choir, the excerpts from Swan Lake, the carol medley and speeding through Christmas to a rendition of Auld Lang Syne in the finale.
Production values are West-End-Disneyland standard, costumes are superb, choreography is brilliant, performers are fantastic, lighting is spectacular – if I had one criticism it’d be directed towards myself for not having visited before.
Quite one of the most unique nights out I’ve ever had and the very best way to inject Christmas spirit into even the most reluctant Scrooge, I can’t recommend the Thursford Christmas Spectacular highly enough. If you’ve not been, put it on your bucket list. Better still, book tickets immediately.
The Thursford Christmas Spectacular runs until December 23 with two shows a day at 2pm and 7pm.
For more information, call 01328 878477.
Have you been to see the show? Add your thoughts and reviews by posting them as comments below.