Review: Cromer Pier summer show

Cromer Pier summer show's West Side Story routine. Picture: SUBMITTED

Cromer Pier summer show's West Side Story routine. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

The curtains drew back and the explosion of feathers and sequins set against a bright Broadway backdrop prompted a round of spontaneous applause - even before the show had begun.

Singers Jane Watkins and Louis Yssel with dancers. Picture: SUBMITTED

Singers Jane Watkins and Louis Yssel with dancers. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

The Cromer pier summer show was back - back to its roots in seaside variety.

After experimenting with minimalist scenery and extra helpings of comedy club-style stand-up gaggery this 38-year-old seaside institution has overcome its midlife crisis.

It has sold the sports car and rebought something that is a mix between a family saloon and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - reliable, comfortable but with colour and surprises.

The reaction from a first night audience showed they welcomed the return of their favourite Cromer cocktail of comedy, music, dance and speciality.

So here is a show with lavish helpings of dance and colourful scenery, as well as belly laughs.

The mix is a kind of One Show by the sea, with lurching gear changes of pace and mood.

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Where else can a evocative tableau paying tribute to World War One be followed within seconds by an impressionist bouncing on to the stage as Dame Edna Everage with the greeting 'Hello possums'?

Or a young heart-throb classical singer, Louis Yssel, have the ladies swooning soon after a multi-instrumentalist duo Andante had the crowd clapping along to Duelling Banjos played with a banjo... and recorder, and an Elvis hit performed on a musical saw.

A rather bizarre blend, but one which makes Cromer's summer show what it is - unique.

Headline comic Paul Eastwood is modern and cheeky - occasionally skating close to the knuckle - but getting away with it through his smile and rapport with the audience.

Older school comedy impressionist Adam Daye is locked in a time zone inhabited by the likes of Kenneth Williams, Benny Hill and Ken Dodd - which is perfect for the show's core audience. And his Dame Edna is a bewt.

Singer Jane Watkins has a versatile voice and winning smile skipping from 60s' pop to West End shows, while young Louis' smooth style was at its best in Italian opera, and his female fans did not care a jot that they did not understand the lyrics.

Dancing - under the inspired choreography of devisee Di Cooke - provided some of the 'Wow!' moments - especially a stunning Bolero ballet routine, and Stepping Out tap.

The wrapping on this seaside gift of a show comes in the sometimes psychedelic, sometimes simple scenery of Ian Westbrook, and the sparkling costumes of Laura Whyte. The switch of musical director Nigel Hogg back into the orchestra pit after a spell at the sound desk at the rear of the auditiorium also underlined the back-to-the-future nature of this year's born-again show.

There were some odd moments, not least the inclusion of the usual local and charming dance school youngsters in the visceral adult world of West Side Story.

But this is variety and, if variety is the spice of life, then this year's pier show is back to its vindaloo hottest.

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