Review: Cromer Pier Seaside Special

This popular holiday variety show has re-tuned its theme for the second alternating version – to the radio. While show one heads to New York for its stateside rhythms, show two flits around the dial with a string of songs, sketches and dance routines based on radio waves.

This popular holiday variety show has re-tuned its theme for the second alternating version - to the radio.

While show one heads to New York for its Stateside rhythms, show two flits around the dial with a string of songs, sketches and dance routines based on Radio Waves.

It provides the vehicle for headlining ventriloquist Steve Hewlett to revive wireless dummy Archie Andrews - the 1950s original - for a star guest appearance,

The blazered schoolboy enables the superb and self-deprecating Hewlett to make gags about the original jacket, and his gags, being old material.

But the humour gets even more cutting and the skills more masterful when he emerges in the second half with cruel skunk Pongo and ditsy schoolgirl Tiny Tina on each arm. Hewlett's mastery of the art combined with comic timing make him and his dolls the true stars of the show.

Supporting comic Paul Adams is a strong second dose of mirth centered on everyday life and delivered with wit and warmth.

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The theme sees radios used to provide links for blasts of pop music and dancing ranging from the Beatles and Beachboys to classical ballet.

Singer Rob McVeigh, from TV's Any Dream Will Do, puts his experience to good use as the powerful hub of a Joseph sequence, while Scarlet Gabriel's soulful voice gets a chance to shine in some modern RandB to bring the show bang up to date, as does a Take That finale.

Speciality act Casba Bozso introduced another stunning display of balance and gyrating gymnastics by spinning his BMX bike wheels like a DJ to link in with the 'plot.'

I like the seamless switches between acts and pace in both shows this year which provide for slickness, though it does seem to mean there is little time for the performers, comics apart, to build much rapport with the audience.

As to which show is best - it's all down to your musical preferences, and both are well worth a look just to see the headliner vent his talents.

?Seaside Special runs until September 24, with a combination of the two shows for the final fortnight. A series of School's Out children's versions opens on July 29. More information on 01263 512495 or at www.cromer-pier.com

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