Thursford Christmas Spectacular

RICHARD PARR Thursford Collection

RICHARD PARR

Thursford Collection

In three decades, this festive feast of music, dance, comedy and prose has become a part of the fabric of Norfolk.

When the show's founder and director, John Cushing, arranged a carol concert in 1977, he could never have imagined that 30 years later it would have become arguably the largest show of its kind in England. By the time the final curtain comes down on December 23, it will have been seen by 113,000-plus people.

Each year the show, which features 110 professional musicians, dancers and singers, gets better and better, and this year Mr Cushing has ensured that the 30th anniversary show is a celebration to remember.

Even in the middle of November, the first evening performance capacity audience on Saturday wallowed in the magic of it all - how they loved its creative and clever fusion of the seasonal sacred and secular.

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The near-three-hour merry musical is breathtaking in pace, creating an exquisite kaleidoscope of images for an appreciative audience.

One minute we are listening to a beautiful solo of O Holy Night, then we find ourselves caught up in Disney magic in It's a Small World.

The show is a musical and dance triumph - with Wurlitzer organist Phil Kelsall enjoying his own 25th anniversary in his pivotal solo role.

It is also a visual feast with glamorous can-can dancers and endless costume changes creating riots of colour.

In a show packed full of riches it is difficult to select highlights, but for me the Wedding of the Painted Doll and the Spanish dance routine will linger in the memory.

There is a comic element and local farmer Keith Loads was a firm favourite - a master of timing.

Elsewhere we had prose from a "schoolgirl" angel and the appearance of "overweight" ballerinas.

The front of the programme describes the show as the "ultimate Christmas magical experience" - it is certainly that, and much more. May it enjoy many happy returns.

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