Christmas came early this week for a sell-out first performance audience who were treated to a colourful music, song and dance extravaganza.
The Norfolk-produced Thursford Christmas Spectacular entered its fifth decade and its huge popular appeal shows no sign of diminishing.
While November 8 may, for some, seem too early to be watching a theatrical celebration of Christmas, once inside the auditorium time is suspended and you forget that Christmas is actually more than six weeks away!
The Show’s founder/director, John Cushing, and his talented creative, production team, once again unfolds a tried and tested successful formula − cleverly combining the sacred and the secular.
It’s a fast-moving colourful tour-de-force of singing, dancing, comedy and prose, with a speciality juggler act, thrown into the mix.
Woven through it all is the simple, timeless message of the true meaning of Christmas.
Judging from the applause and laughter at Wednesday afternoon’s (Nov 8) opening show, the audience, many of them of more senior years, loved every minute of this festive feast. I was sitting next to a lady (a first-time Thursford-goer) who was in a party of WI members from Carlisle.
In two acts, featuring more than 60 contrasting musical pieces, there is something for everyone.
Dazzling routines from scantily-clad high-kicking showgirls, stepping out across the 100-foot wide stage, contrasts with a fast-paced high-energy Putting on the Ritz jazz sequence.
There are no individual “stars” in this show: the cast of more than one hundred who successfully auditioned during the summer for a part all contribute to polished, professional performances.
Where else but at Thursford could you see life-size dancing penguins, a beautiful choreographed ballet sequence, tap dancing Riverdance-style, bagpipe players, Phil Kelsall playing Thursford’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ, and a robed choir singing traditional Christmas Carols, all coming together in the same production?.
Adding further to the rich variety content, Essex comic Paul Eastman (clearly an audience favourite) makes a welcome return, his topical (sometimes saucy) original gags producing gales of giggles from the auditorium.
In his welcome introduction in the glossy programme, John Cushing says he is “incredibly humbled” that people continue to come to Thursford Christmas Show from every county in the country, some of them coming every year for the past 40 years.
The “feel-good” factor is writ large in this show. The happy, smiling faces of the audience at the end of this jolly jamboree, as they flood outside into the cold night air and head for home, says it all − their countdown to Christmas has begun.
n Many performances are now sold out, but for remaining ticket availability contact Thursford on 01328 878477.