25th September 2017 3:11 pm
The curtain has closed on the 40th Cromer Pier Show. Read all about it with this sensational closing night review
It was a privilege in my capacity at Chairman of the National Piers Society to attend yesterday’s finale to the 40th season of the world’s only full season end of pier variety show. This was my 33rd consecutive closing night attendance, and it truly was a night like no other I have witnessed during that time. From the second company manager and musical director Nigel Hogg struck up the opening chords of ‘ No business like showbusiness’ the audience expectation and anticipation was palpable, and the atmosphere electric. The full house, cast and crew were determined to see the milestone anniversary out in style.
Phil Butler, ever the consummate entertainer guided the action packed, glitzy spectacular through its two hours with his unique brand of humour, creative and innovative artistry, and revelled in the atmosphere of the Pavilion auditorium.
Bustar Blaxall delivered his trademark action fuelled, high octane mix of comedy and superb juggling ability to the enthusiastic roars of approval from the audience. Nothing seems to lack an ability to be juggled in Bustar’s world. Running chainsaws, machetes, fire sticks, even bowling balls were all subjected to his brilliant alacrity and skill as he whipped the crowd into a frenzy. I hope we will see this product of antipodean circus and clowning entertaining British audiences again soon.
Joey Howard excelled in his brand of comedy crafted from years of playing northern comedy circuits, acting as a superb foil to Phil and Bustar in the traditional comedy routines, and shining in his solo performances with great audience interaction, punching way above third billing as the auditorium reverberated to enthusiastic applause and laughter. The big show numbers and power ballads sent the audience into respectful silence as superb performances from Lee Bright and Emily Yarrow, filled with perfect phrasing and emotion enlivened the senses, taking the audience on a roller coaster of emotions, before the auditorium erupted to almost deafening applause in appreciation of every rendition. With the superb hand crafted sets of Ian Westbrook, lighting from Amanda Hill, and lavish costumes of the dancers who kicked, flicked and waltzed through tight, enthralling, superbly choreographed routines, this was a classic Openwide production at it’s very best. It came as little surprise to me when, at the finale, the audience erupted into three minutes of non stop applause foot stamping, and the rarest of accolades for a variety production – a full standing ovation.
Yet even as the atmosphere died away as patrons made their way homeward, already eagerly anticipating the Christmas Show and next year’s production, it was plainly obvious that not only were all present participating in a unique occasion, but also a definitive demonstration of brand loyalty. Openwide have strived to bring West End production values and the highest quality of entertainment to Cromer during their 15 year custodianship of the show. Audiences have increased year on year, with this season breaking all records for both footfall and income. This is built firmly upon their reputation for giving family audiences what they want from a variety theatre experience, and the loyalty and bond between Openwide and their audience was palpable last night in a way I had never experienced before. Let us hope their reign continues into the next decade and the show continues to flourish towards it’s golden anniversary as both a unique entertainment experience, and vital element of the tourist economy of North Norfolk.
Tim Wardley – Chairman of National Piers Society