Seaside Special: On The Town

RICHARD BATSON Pavilion Theatre, Cromer


Imagine if your favourite football team started the new season with a totally new set of stars.

It would take weeks for them to gel as a side, and for the fans to work out who are their favourites.

It may well happen at Leeds and it has happened at Cromer Pier. But there are signs that new-look Seaside Special side have come out for the second half looking slicker and more confident.

After a patchy opening night of show one – Cromer Presents – where the stunning chorus numbers contrasted with some eclectic and, at times not very funny, comedy, show two – On The Town – is much more consistent in delivering the kind of depth of quality audiences expect.

The colourful and well-choreographed production numbers remain the best of the bunch – ranging from Guys and Dolls to a Eurovision song contest session.

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Adam Porter-Smith and Natasha Seale are growing in stature as versatile singers, who combine very well as a duo, too, when they are also freed from battling against overloud pre-recorded backing vocals.

Headlining comic Andy Ford continues to bounce around the stage like Tigger on speed. His off-the-wall, quick-fire humour sees him confessing “you ain't worked me out yet”, but he seems funnier in show two – maybe because the high proportion of seaside special junkies who see both shows are getting used to his unique style.

His sidekick, Phil Melbourne, was much better this time, delivering a mix of old one-liners and topical humour with style and a winning smile – though both comics are straying across the traditional taste line in the sand with regular sexual and bodily function references.

The ribbon-climbing and tumbling antics of the graceful and athletic Aaron Walker will steal the show for first-timers, and continue to impress even those who saw similar acts last show and last year.

As the solo acts get their game together, the real stars are the Seaside Special Dancers – a bright set of youngsters who provide an energetic engine room, switching from ballet to disco, and join in the comedy sketches, too.

Jessica Bedford, Natasha Bird, Nicola Salt, Rebecca Wallace, Kevin Archbold and Neil Scott Brodrick deserve a name check as the unsung midfield dynamos of this developing team.

In the annals of Seaside Special, I suspect this year will not be a championship contender, with no one act providing the “wow” factor – but if the cast continues to read the Greece Coaching Manual of Solid Teamwork, they could be pushing for the playoffs.