Review: Cromer Pier Christmas Show

The cast of Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre Christmas Show. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The cast of Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre Christmas Show. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Cromer Christmas show

Jane Watkins and Eddie Bushell in action at the Cromer Pier Christmas Show. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Jane Watkins and Eddie Bushell in action at the Cromer Pier Christmas Show. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Cromer Pier Pavilion

A feast of festive fare and fun is the successful recipe for a Christmas show that leaves you with a warm winter glow.

And the pier's resident Masterchef Di Cooke has found the right ingredients - with enough non-Yuletide elements to save reaching for the indigestion tablets through seasonal overindulging.

After a mini squall of criticism that the sister summer show had experimented a notch too far with its format, the Christmas version has gone more Delia Smith than Heston Blumenthal but still combines inventiveness with tradition.

A series of dance led routines ranging from tap and ballet to a clever miners' sequence, acrobatic samurai sword wielding and feathery showgirls are a treat for the eyes, given extra sparkle by some stunning costumes from Laura Whyte and scenery from Ian Westbrook.

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A second half opener featuring British and German first world war troops meeting to play football and sing Silent Night is an atmospheric and moving 'wow' moment.

But the show's strength is its ability to change gear and mood thanks to the slick direction lubricated by the spot on comedy and patter from regular headliner Olly Day.

Helped by being a local entertainer playing to a much more regional audience than the summer show, the rapport between stage and auditorium is warm and instant.

In the style of a favourite uncle doing his party tricks he tells gags, does tricks, and sings as the superglue holding an already strong show together.

Deadpan comic and magician Martin James is a contrast in style but plucks a couple of 'how did he do that' routines out of his hat.

Versatile singers Eddie Bushell - another local favourite- and Jane Watkins switch from ballads to tunes to pop music - oh and Christmas songs as well of course.

And an impressive set of dancers add poise and energy, augmented by singers and dancers from Marlene's School of Dance, the youngest of whom add an 'ah' factor.

Cromer's Christmas show cannot match the scale of the widescreen spectacle at Thursford up the road. It is a more intimate and cosy fireside experience, but with quality production values - and enough non Christmas content to keep humbugs happy too.

And if it is a warm up for a return to a more all singing and dancing summer show then roll on July too.

Richard Batson

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