There was an orchestra on stage with a starry backdrop. George was at a grand piano in front and conducted the orchestra from there. He and Ants presented the varying numbers from there, they are so funny, a bit like two children in a sweet shop :).
Barry Humphries did a brief introduction and then we started with ‘A world of possibilities & Just So’ performed by some students who were in the graduating class form one of the stage Schools. This was led by Clive Rowe and was a lively start to proceedings.
Then it was one of my favourite songs ‘Flowers for a King’ which was sung by Helena Blackman. I can’t remember the name of the character she plays except she was Tutankhamen’s sister. There was a section at the end when on of the men sang a few lines of as a duet as though it was Tut singing with her. It was just beautiful..
Then it was back to the girl’s ensemble for ‘Pick up your Hooves’ as suitably tarty girls on a night out clubbing. .
Julie Atherton sang ‘Wait a bit’ and it was again just perfect, full of emotion and captured the feelings of that little bird..
The comedy came in and one of my favourite performers, Joanna Riding, in the ‘Joys of Motherhood’ She did this with Claire Moore and Rebecca Thornhill. These actresses show their experience and skill and this was such a funny number..
We then had two more Honk numbers ‘Now that I’ve seen you’ and Different which were nicely performed by Clive Rowe and Oliver Thompsett. .
The show moved on to Peter Pan with another one of my favourites ‘Just Beyond the Stars’ sung by the original Mrs Darling ‘Claire Moore’. .
Neverland and the Lost Boys Gang were brought to a very lively numbers by James Gillan, Helena Blackman and the boys ensemble. Now ‘There’s always tomorrow’ was sung by James Gillan who I saw in the Festival Hall production and what can I say but ‘wow’. This performance sent shivers down my spine, the emotion that he brought to the song and the character of Peter putting of the moment when he has to grow up was just magical. As I write this I had the thought that ‘Does the moment ever come’ would also be a very apt song for Peter with the line ‘does anyone ever really grow up at all’.
We had not one but three Mary Poppins in the form of Lisa O’Hare, Scarlett Strallen and Caroline Sheen who informed us all that they were ‘Practically perfect’ and even showed some rivalry for the limelight as each Mary was always a just that bit nearer the front then her rivals.
Rebecca Thornhill, who took over as Mrs Banks, sang the original version of her namesake song. She is a performer I have seen in many things and is always excellent. This was a lovely version.
Then we had the treat of something new form a new show based on the film ‘A private function which is set in 40’s Yorkshire and has a chiropodist just for a while turning the lives of the women he treats into a different place from their drudgery. This was beautifully performed by Joanna Riding, Claire Moore and Shona Lindsay. Then another new song based on a musical version of the film ‘Dave’. The song was for the president’s wife and ‘Dave’ when they acknowledge that they feel something for each other in ‘When pretend becomes real’ sung by Shona Lindsey and Daniel Boys.
The first half which had contained so many treats came to end with the Limopo River by the whole company.
So after such a fab first half, what was in store in the second ! Ants took to the stage in the second half as the bullfrog in ‘Warts and All’ which provided an exuberant start to the proceedings.
Joanna Riding then performed one of their cabaret songs ‘Carrying a torch’ which was so funny and she just shows her versatility as the super fan of the ‘boy carrying the spear’ in a production of Julius Caesar.
In the concert they did for their 20th anniversary there is a song called Diva, as performed by Alison Jiear about a diva who can’t sing. She performed this and it brought the house down. Such a perfect sense of comic timing, facial expression and a huge stage presence. I wish I was able to perform like that !
The remainder of the section of the second half was taken up with excerpts from Soho Cinders which thankfully looks as though it will be coming to fruition sooner than later as I am really looking forward to this.
It opened with ‘Old Compton Street’ showing the different people who inhabit the district. Which started us off with a good idea of where the show was going. We then met Robbie (Gareth Gates) and his friend Velcro (Leanne Jones) as both wished for something more than what they had which was nothing more than a normal life doing normal things. Claire Moore and Joanna Riding then entered as the two ugly sisters and they certainly scrubbed down extremely well and were just perfect as the two ‘slappers’ for want of a better word with ‘I’m so over men’. Robbie and ‘James Prince’ then sang a lovely ballad called ‘Gypsies across the ether’ as they speak to their internet friend, but neither knowing who the other is. Velcro and Robbie then ponder the question of ‘It’s hard to tell’ when considering the people who live in Compton street and whether they are gay or straight. Robbie then sang, again another lovely song, called ‘they don’t make glass slippers acknowledging that fairy tales don’t happen in real life. He does has a fairy godmother in the guise of a tricycle rider and she tells him ‘you shall go the ball’
Finally what else could they end with but ‘Anything can happen’ as the whole company came back on. After the applause and the standing ovation the evening finished with George and Ants singing ‘Does the moment ever come’. A very fitting finale, as for them the moment has not only come but new moments continue to come to fruition as well.
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