The Thursford Christmas Spectacular actually is a one-of-a-kind present. The closest comparability is to the Andre Rieu concert events, besides Thursford makes Rieu look uninteresting by comparability. And in case you’ve ever seen a Rieu live performance you’ll know that takes some doing! Some might discover the considerably enforced jollity of a Rieu live performance cloying, however at Thursford the entire present is wrapped up in such a glowing expertise proper from the second you enter the location – music enjoying by way of the fairy-lit timber and Dickensian-dressed characters providing a heat welcome – that you just’d be onerous pushed to keep up any Scrooge-like sensibilities by the point the present itself begins.
The standard is clear in each facet of the present. It’s basically a great old school selection present. And in case you’ve not seen a kind of just lately you might, maybe, have seen one thing comparable on a cruise ship. A few of this present’s performers have expertise acting on cruise ships and whereas it is a comparable form of factor, the size is epic. Tiller woman fashion high-kicking dance routines, precision marching to ’76 trombones’, West Finish showstoppers from Half a Sixpence, Mary Poppins and Hairspray and way more.
Returning as host is Kev Orkian, performing that uncommon trick of being humorous for an viewers that, principally, haven’t come to see him. He’s additionally a gifted musical expertise, doing a little intelligent and witty musical parodies.
The orchestra/band is massive and versatile. Their Dixieland-style model of Maria Carey’s All I Need for Christmas was impressed. While Hairspray’s You Can’t Cease the Beat was highly effective and vibrant. My solely quibble is that this quantity, when taken out of the context of its authentic present, fails to make the purpose it’s written for – specifically about racial integration. Equally, Every part’s Coming Up Roses, from Gypsy, is on one degree an amazing Broadway customary. In context, as Ethel Merman biographer Brian Kellow notes, “It is a chilling illustration of blind ambition combined with megalomania.”
Amidst all of the spectacle there’s a delightfully witty and splendidly English comedy tune complaining concerning the Church Of England. I’d someway missed out on the gem that’s Mrs Beamish and on checking (there’s no programme credit score for any composers or lyricists – a disgrace) I see it’s by Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern. Joyous.
This was solely my second ever Thursford expertise and I used to be significantly impressed that, a couple of conventional components apart, it appeared to me a completely new manufacturing. Sure, the essence and the format stay the identical, however costumes, choreography, music – even Ken Orkian’s jokes – had been all new for this yr. I feel I’m all Christmassed-out for this yr now!
Assessment by John Charles
Seat: Stalls N10 | Worth of ticket: £45