Review: Opening night of the Cromer Pier Show
- Credit: Archant
It's very retro, it's very English, and it's a very good night out.
Step away from your 21st century iPhones and your boxed sets of Breaking Bad.
Step instead into a multi-coloured world peopled with sparkling smiles, spangled costumes, high-energy dance routines, belted-out ballads, gags galore - and a woman in glamorous evening dress playing the sax.
Comedian and MC Paul Eastwood, returning for a second season, deftly shouldered the joke-firing machine gun and liberally sprayed the audience with funnies, some on the tabasco side of saucy and some verging on the 'not quite PC' - but only verging.
Joining Paul is homegrown visual comic Ben Langley, who appeared in the 2012 show. Versatile Ben combined escapology and verbal dexterity with knockabout humour, all the time sporting a huge Cheshire Cat grin.
You can't beat the pair's deceptively-simple custard pie routine for old-fashioned belly laughs.
Both find plenty of humour in our English foibles, including class snobbery: 'Do you like Tesco?' asked Ben. 'I like Tesco. It keeps the riff-raff out of Waitrose.'
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Multi-instrumentalist Rachel King went down a storm on opening night, with her warm personality and virtuoso performances to suit all musical tastes - from Acker Bilk to Bach.
Central to the show's success is the six-strong dance troupe, directed and choreographed by Di Cooke.
The two lads and four lasses gave the nearby Sheringham Shoal offshore windfarm a run for its money when it came to energy production.
A more-modern, slightly dark, ballet routine went down well with the audience.
But my favourite was the action-packed Mary Poppins extravaganza which included an 'Aaahh'-inducing row of tinies from Marlene's School of Dancing tripping on to the stage to strut their very excellent stuff.
Singer Jane Watkins, another second-season returner, showed off her vocal talents best in a powerful performance of Don't Rain On My Parade.
Making his pier show debut was male singer Luke Walsh.
Luke's great, light, voice is not his only asset. Pecs appeal - he's almost bare-chested in one routine - may come to make him a Cromer rival to Poldark scyther Aidan Turner.
The show's creative infrastructure - music, sets, lighting and costumes - were all slick as ever, and a sensory feast.
Cromer's end-of-the-pier variety show is a bright and brassy survivor from an earlier era of entertainment which cheered up our forebears through the decades.
And when it's performed by talented people with great pizzazz, it's a unique gem of our cultural heritage, well worth cherishing and supporting.