There have been some amazing diversifications of land and property usage in Norfolk but when Cushing Senior decided to put on a bit of a show 42 years ago, I can’t imagine that even he would have expected that 5.4 million visitors later, people would be flying from all over the world to enjoy the Thursford Christmas Spectacular.
I popped along with Mr O’s mum – the lovely Ann during the opening week and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house – that’s 1400 people on a Thursday afternoon in a tiny little village in North Norfolk!
The show has a reputation for appealing to a certain silver haired demographic and I can’t lie, the average age was sixty plus. My first thought was “crikey – I’m one of the youngest here” (never a bad thing) but actually it’s testament to the show that it keeps the good ole music hall alive and the audience clearly love it, with many coming back year on year.
However, I apologise up front – this is not Cocoon and I shan’t be keeping this age defying magic a secret! I had a fab time and for anyone that loves musicals it’s variety at its best – singing, dancing and comedy with bucket loads of glitter and sparkle that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Each year, Thursford Steam Museum is transformed into the most magical winter wonderland – beautiful decorations, a full sized carousel and 6.5 million lights – now that’s a lot of twinkle!
The show lasts three hours, which ordinarily would be far too long for me, but the sheer pace and energy kept me bum dancing until the very end.
There were some wonderfully camp ‘tongue in cheek’ moments – a dozen men singing “look at me, I’m a Choo Choo” had me smiling and thinking this is ‘gay’ in the true meaning of the word.
Phil Kelsall showed us some fancy finger work on his big organ – that’s a Wurlitzer for those in the know – and perhaps even more impressively, Phil is the longest standing cast member with 39 years under his belt!
I was amazed by the versatility of the dancers as they switched between Can Can, Irish Dancing, Ballet and Ballroom. If you like a bit of Strictly on a Saturday night then this will be right up your street. Bruce Forsyth style humour from the host Paul Eastwood had us laughing and groaning in equal measures.
The costumes were stunning – some leaving little to the imagination (OMG I sound like my mum) which left me wishing I hadn’t scoffed that second mince pie, but it did keep the grandads happy – aw bless! Sexy sequined leotards, mini dresses and tutus were perfectly balanced with vintage ball dresses and sparkly cocktail numbers – I salute you Stephen Adnitt (the man behind Dame Edna Everage’s costumes) the glamour was breathtaking.
Speciality act Vanessa Alvarez amazed us with her feet spinning of a guitar while eight violins played Cold Play Viva la Vida – awesome!
There’s absolutely ‘No Business Like Show Business’ and the Thursford Spectacular throws everything at you. Nowhere else would you see a show that seamlessly switches between a Gospel Choir singing Sound of Music tunes to Lulu’s ‘Shout’ or Nessun Dorma to Titanic’s My Heart Will Go On and then onto a grand finale of Christmas songs.
Mr Fizzywigs Annual Christmas Ball (Scrooge) was delightful and once again showed the mastery of choreographer Tracey Iliffe. It’s actually hard to believe that all of this is achieved with little under two months rehearsal time – a testament to the talent of the cast and crew.
I won’t spoil the ending as it’s rather magical if not a little bit cheesy, but that’s not a bad thing! I surprised myself by having a great time and would recommend it for a ‘mums and daughters’ day out (0ver 8’s) – tickets are still available at www.thursford.com/christmas-spectacular
Under 8’s can still experience the magic and I recommend Thursfords Santa’s Magical Journey – hands down the best Santa’s Grotto in Norfolk!