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Review: Summer Showtime 2022, Gorleston Pavilion

Life is a cabaret (with a very local flavour) at this ultra traditional saucy seaside spectacular. But was Muddy razzle dazzled by the spectacle?

The Great British seaside offers up some real hidden gems – and the Gorleston Pavilion Theatre is a fabulous example.

Tucked just behind the enormous white, sandy beach in Norfolk’s Gorleston-on-Sea, the Edwardian theatre looks almost frozen in time.

And as soon as you enter the terracotta-coloured building, it’s clear that the Pavilion has made the (wise) decision to lean hard into their rich entertainment history – rather than trying to modernise too much.

There’s an eclectic mixture of paintings and music memorabilia on the peach walls, and the audience sit around candle-lit tables in the ornate auditorium. Plus – and this is great fun – you wave a flag to order drinks! (You can also order via an app, if you insist on being all 21st century.)

Muddy was invited to review their Summer Showtime 2022, a spangly smorgasbord of (mostly) good and (always) old-fashioned fun – there’s comedy, magic, accordion-playing, aerial acrobatics and lots (and lots) of all-singing, all-dancing numbers.

The whole thing is compered and headed up by local double act Olly Day and Nigel “Boy” Slater, who have been treading these boards (as well as various other Norfolk stages) for decades. Most sections have a vague theme, from day-glo tropicana to 1920s jazz, and the music ranges from classic music hall numbers to tracks by Take That and George Michael.

Sure, it’s about as cutting edge as a beach ball, but there’s oodles of old-school naughtiness to giggle at and plenty of genuine talent to admire.

Olly Day and Nigel “Boy” Slater

Aaron Bolton, in particular, has a cracking voice, and we found ourselves swaying and singing along to his Tom Jones medley. The young dance troupe also do an amazing job of keeping up the energy in outfit after spangly outfit.

There are a LOT of silver heads in the crowd, but it’s packed to the rafters and everyone seems to up for a good night out. (There’s a big younger crew near Muddy’s table having a whale of a time, who turn out to be performers from a nearby circus.)

Many of the cast are returning faces from former Summer Showtimes in previous years, and they come off as a tight-knit crew.

Nevertheless, be forewarned that there are various moments that the Gen Z-er in your life would seriously wince at – and you’ll probably cringe through your fingers at some of the old jokes, too. Some are so bad they’re good, while some are just…well, really quite “problematic”.

If this kind of jaunty variety performance is already your bag, you’ll lap it up. And if it isn’t? We suggest waving that flag, sipping a malibu and pineapple and going with the flow.

THE MUDDY VERDICT 

Good for: Mixed age group parties with older family members, lovers of kitsch, nostalgia and old-school seaside entertainment.

Not for: If you take yourself quite seriously, this probably isn’t for you.

See Summer Showtime 2022 at the Pavilion Theatre Gorleston until 18 Oct, every Tuesday at 7.45pm, with select matinees. £20 for adults, £10 for children.

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