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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Newbury Variety Holiday Show

5th to 8th June 2002.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

An all-star winner

NEWBURY VARIETY HOLIDAY SHOW, at The Corn Exchange, from Thursday, June 6 to Saturday, June 8

Hiring a venue like the Corn Exchange is the easy bit. The real work starts when you have to find the talent to fill it and Gill Morgan and her team obviously worked long and hard to do just that. Too often we see shows with only one or two 'stars' in an otherwise cloudy firmament but this was not the case here. From 'curtain up' to 'coats on' this show did everything with the consummate professionalism that a first-class venue requires.

Putting the day jobs behind them were Emma Winterbourne, Sian Collins, Wendy Orpwood and Jay Oxenham, who between them not only sang everything from the West End stage to Frank Sinatra but pulled it off too! James Selsey deserves a special mention for standing in at the last minute and, taking a deep breath, made sure that the show did indeed go on.

Keeping it rolling was our MC (David Slade) who eventually succeeded in thawing out a slightly unresponsive audience and totally floored me and The Friend with a joke about a tandem! And we must not forget the dancers.

Total precision, real smiles and no embarrassed shuffling at the back. Michael Lucas and his spectacular musicianship even coaxed the audience to sing along to some stylish and deliberately off-key piano playing.

Either the hard work of Act One had paid off or the interval wine took hold because unrestrained clapping marked the performance of the band 'Mó Cáirdré' and suddenly we were off on a spectacular holiday trip through time with a bewildering number of scene and costume changes, proving that there were no slouches backstage either. With hindsight, shorter and tighter might have been better but a clever running gag kept everything together right to the final number.

Quite how you choose a favourite from this selection of first-rate voices, dancing and musicianship, I do not know. Why you would even try is beyond me when all you had to do was sit back and appreciate that these were people for whom the word 'amateur' did not exist.