Seaside Special (Cromer)

RICHARD BATSON Pavilion Theatre, Cromer


Pavilion Theatre, Cromer

Colour, comedy, energy and entertainment are the essential ingredients of a summer show season.

And once again Cromer's unique end-of-the-pier experience serves them up in good measure.

Comedian Barnaby returns for a second season, to head a strong cast of solo artists who are moulded into a coherent team by devisor, director and choreographer Di Cooke - Sven please note.

So, as ever, some of the most magical moments come when they attack the audience mob handed.

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Sing and clap-along Oklahoma and Abba routines provided powerful ends to each half, bolstered by the stunning sets of Ian Westbrook and dazzling costumes of Sue Simmerling and Emma Thomas.

But one of the highlights of the opening night came, surprisingly, from a bit of ballet - an enchanting woodland-themed piece with small children from the local Marlene's School of Dance adding the “ah” factor.

Another was a swing and jive section which showcased the skills and stamina of the Seaside Special Dancers, whose joint contribution to the success of the season continues to be as big, maybe even bigger, than the solo turns.

Barnaby once again had the audience in stitches with his blend of patter and gags. Even if some of the material seemed a bit familiar, his delivery and warm personality - like that of a favourite uncle - means you laugh anyway.

Comedy magician Andy Leach combines tomfoolery with tricks and puppetry in his solo spot, which went down well with the crowd, but may need more time to blend with the slickness of his colleagues in dance routines and sketches.

No such problems for one young man who could well become the star of the season.

Harvey James is billed as a singer and has the versatility to switch from swing to show songs. But the Wisbech man's skills as a dancer, flashing smile and personality, make him one to watch for the future.

His female singer counterpart, Alexandra Turchyn, also combines a fine clear voice with model girl looks and the ability to hoof it in the chorus numbers.

Classical musician Joanne Rozario adds another musical dimension to the show in a first-ever switch from the orchestra pit to the variety stage, and there was a hint of a fine singing voice which demands an encore.

Some of the singers were handicapped by being drowned by the music on occasions during the first night - particularly when the two-man “pit” of Nigel Hogg and Kieron Parker were augmented by electronically enhanced instruments, choral voices and tap sounds.

But that is nit-picking over what is once again a great evening of, mostly, live variety family entertainment for all ages.

t Seaside Special runs at the Cromer Pier until September 16. Box office 01263 512495.

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