Seaside Special (Show 1)

RICHARD BATSON Pavilion Theatre, Cromer


> Pavilion Theatre, Cromer

If you wanted to bottle the best of seaside variety, then this is a vintage show to savour.

Last summer's Cromer show was a bit “corked”, mainly in the comedy department, to the disappointment of many regular showgoers.

But rest assured Cromer's end-of-the-pier show is back, with a bang, to its very best.

It has a mix of comedy, song, magic, dance and colour, all sewn together with precision and pace by director Di Cooke for a show that flies by all too quickly.

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Headlining comic Barnaby had the audience in stitches with his homely humour about everyday life, as well as writing some delightfully daft sketches and doing the compere role with zest.

The seasoned performer can also “work” the audience with a wit and warmth that is sure to make him a big hit with Seaside Special fans.

His main “foil” is Mandy Muden – a larger-than-life comedy magician who brings something a bit different to the Special mix. She too proved an instant hit with the crowd, producing laughter from her hat as well as a sleeve-full of tricks.

The main male singer sees the return of Adam Porter-Smith, who is equally at home with ballads or jazz, but was the most impressive during show songs from Barnam and Les Miserables – and whose fun character is also unleashed when he joins the comedy sketches.

Female vocalist Claire Maurer is another versatile performer who can schmooze through Somewhere Over the Rainbow or belt out Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend. She was a superb Mary Poppins in a stunning end to the first half – and can also hoof it with the best of them.

Cellist Jonathan Kitchen does not seem the obvious choice for a boisterous seaside romp – but his playing adds a bit of calm and class to increase the light and shade of the show, and he too joins in with the sketches and chorus numbers.

It was good to see the first- night crowd give a long ovation, albeit a sitting one, to the Seaside Special dancers – so often the unsung heroes whose energy and precision glue the show together – following a spectacular Riverdance-style routine.

They excelled in a range of styles from 1920s jazz and Copacabana show glitz to circus clowning and folk ballet.

Add to that the usual stunning costumes and scen-ery and you have a show that many regulars were rating as “one of the best ever”.

If you were put off by last year, don't be. Miss this show and you will regret it.

t Seaside Special runs until September 17.