Oh, Cromer Pier show – it’s good to have you back, writes Richard Batson
After a lost summer laid waste by lockdowns, this cocktail of seaside stage tradition has returned in all its glory – with a few new twists to add to the flavour.
Animated backdrop projections add another dimension to an already multi-faceted masterpiece. And instead of two alternating shows, this year there are different guest performers every week to keep the show fresh through the whole season, which finishes on October 2.
Opening night kicked off with Tucker – a firm favourite of show fans returning with his brand of warm cheeky humour. He is a perfect foil for headliner host Phil Butler, another returnee whose talents as a comedian, magician, singer and dancer make him the perfect man to lead this traditional but modern variety show.
Vocalists Rob McVeigh and Marina Lawrence-Mahrra take the lead on pop and show songs including rousing numbers from the Greatest Showman and a pulsing Cuban sequence.
But the cast is most powerful when the team comes together during the big musical numbers such as Mary Poppins, Masquerade, and Les Miserables, which fill the stage with song, a talented team of dancers, stunning sets and colourful costumes adorned with feathers and sequins.
Special mention must go to this year’s specialist act Duo Fusion UK – Connor Byrne and Tiffany Gaine – whose circus style aerial and acrobatic routines are mesmerising. The pair flew in unison over the front rows of the audience, and some of their contortions on stage drew audible gasps from the crowd.
There are no local children joining the cast this year, to lessen the covid-19 risk, and the “bubbled” stars are not doing their usual after-show mingling for the same reason, which is a shame because many feel like family friends we have known for years and enjoy catching up with. But they hope that will change as things progress.
Make sure you don’t arrive late – because the opening sequence on the projection screen taking us from a closed theatre to the current show’s revival is poignant and powerful – and a reminder of how glad we should be to have live variety back at the end of the pier.
For tickets and show details, including the line-up of guests, visit www.cromerpier.co.uk