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Dec 27th

Peter Pan, The Alhambra, Bradford


The Bradford pantomime is always the jewel in the crown of pantos and this year is no exception.    With a huge crocodile on stage, a talking parrot and enough jokes to last you into the New Year it can only be pantomime time again.

Appearing in the Bradford panto for the 18th time, Yorkshire comedian Billy Pearce is becoming part of the fixture and fittings of the Alhambra. He makes his arrival on stage via a bike that descends from the sky then goes into his regular routine. "I'm Smee this year" he jokes to the audience.  Just when you think that he is going to do a re run of his past jokes and it will all be a case of déjà vu things take a huge turn for the better when he meets Captain Hook played by Darren Day.

I wasn't expecting Day to be this good but he played Captain Hook with a menacing charm, with a cockney accent and a devilish smile he and Pearce made a great double act with their lines bouncing off each other. It is said that off the stage they are good friends and you could see that in this spectacular show as the chemistry between the two was very natural. Together they had some of the best scenes and the best lines of the night.

Ex S Club 7 member Jon Lee played Peter Pan although for me he could have been in the show a lot more than he was, also I've never seen Peter Pan with tattoos on his arms, it might have been a better idea to have his arms fully covered up, mind you, if you are 6 years old and enjoying the show, it does not matter.

Charlie Hardwick best remembered for her role as Val Pollard in Emmerdale was all sweetness as Mimi, the Magical Mermaid.  She sang a rousing version of the Jess Glynne hit, Hold My Hand which also featured the legendary Bradford Sunbeams. The young dancers are a tradition of the Bradford panto that goes back over 50 years.

Lucy Evans was all innocence and magic as Tinker Bell whilst Marina Lawrence Mahrra was making her professional debut as Tiger Lily. Her version of the Clean Bandit hit, Rather Be was an unexpected surprise. It was not all new songs, He Had It Coming from the musical Chicago was cleverly slotted into the show.

The special effects had everyone at the edge of their seats with a brilliant 3D scene where you had to wear special glasses. "Return them when you leave the theatre, we lost 500 last week, there's probably a bloke selling them on Heckmondwike market" jokes Pearce.

The 12 Days of Christmas scene was a scream, each time they perform it I'm sure it will be different but you can imagine the fun they had doing it in rehearsals. 

It was refreshing to see all the actors interacting with each other: all were equal too, sometimes you get a big name in the show and it all revolves around them and they just slot their regular act into the panto but the Bradford one is a joint effort from all involved.

It might be set in Neverland but this was a night spent in Wonderland. It will be hard to top this next year but I am sure that they will. Superb.

Runs until Sunday 29 January 2017

Telephone: 01274 432000

Dec 22nd

The McDougalls, Chaos At Christmas - Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine, December 2016

By Jon Cuthbertson


The McDougalls present a fun and festive family show filled with laughter and song.

The McDougalls

The McDougalls are already a little bit of a cult hit with the kids of Inverclyde and Ayrshire – and the kids of Glasgow are catching on too after their recent trip to the Theatre Royal. Aimed at the pre-school market, the shows are mainly set around songs that the young people can join in with, performed by larger than life characters who move it along in story form.

In this latest production, Chaos At Christmas, there are many classics that even I remember from my childhood (although with some new verses on to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I had to rely on the 3 year old beside me to help me with the actions and words!) and some new songs that I believe are written specially for the McDougalls.

The McDougalls themselves are Max (played by one of the show’s creators, Ryan Moir), Maisie (Colleen Garrett) and Auntie Aggie (the show’s other creator, Ruairidh Forde). They are joined throughout by various other characters such as their, rather large, pet rabbit Morag (played by Euan Barker in one his many skin character guises) and wee cousin Shug (a second role for the versatile Ruairidh Forde). Each character is lively,colourful and full of energy.


The simple story follows the family on Christmas Eve as they prepare for Christmas Day itself, however nothing quite goes to plan. Shug has been rehearsing the wrong song for the school nativity and has the wrong costume (his monkey onesie may look cute, but just won’t do when it’s a donkey in the nativity), Aunt Aggie has ruined the turkey and Morag has eaten the carrot that was to be left for the reindeer!

Each of the performers have their moment to shine - Max has been praticing his piano and so we get to see Ryan Moir's musical talents here. Maisie sings a gentle version of Little Donkey to Cousin Shug (and manages to keep a room full of rowdy toddlers enthralled in silence as she sings - a very brave decision to take in a show like this and one that worked extremely well) giving us the chance to hear Colleen Garrett's vocals. Ruairidh Forde's moment to shine was during one of the most interactive parts of the show - 8 kids were chosen to come up to help play Santa's reindeer for a song. As Aunt Aggie, Mr Forde spoke to each of the children and had a little joke or quip ready for any of the answers they threw at him (and trust me, kids of that age can say pretty much anything!). With appearances from a snowman and from Santa (who arrives through the fireplace, having been stuck up the chimney - cue for a song? Of course!) and even some magical snow for the show's finale, there is festive fare aplenty. 

The McDougalls wrap up the show by telling the audience "We're the McDougalls and we've had fun!". Well, they weren't alone - the audience seemed to have had a ball.

Having grown up watching Cilla and Artie in the Singing Kettle, this seems like exactly the kind of show I'd want to see as a child now - a sophisticated Singing Kettle for 2016. With the colourful sets, the energetic characters and the wonderful music this is 5 star family fun!



Harbour Arts Centre Irvine


Friday 16th December 6.30pm

Sunday 18th December 1pm (SOLD OUT)

Sunday 18th December 3pm

Sunday 18th December 6.30pm

Wednesday 21st December 6.30pm

Thursday 22nd December 6.30pm

Friday 23rd December 6.30pm

(booking fee applies)

for more dates see


Dec 17th

Candid at the Blue Elephant Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Candid_Mayou_Trikeriwti web.jpg

We are abandoned in this empty land. At dawn, we are given the spell. Tied together in our bond, we will grow older and older in the same position. We will never question if it's worth it...

CANDID is a ‘performance-ritual’ devised, written and performed by Tania Batzoglou and Vanio Papadelli. Frustrated with the stereotypical representation of female friendships, this project was launched in 2013 and is performed at least once per year, changing with the performers and the space where it is presented. 

Before the show, the audience is invited to explore various "stations" about friendship in the theatre foyer or bar. One can listen to interviews about female friendship, answer questions about oneself and one's friend in a guestbook, or eat a fruit. What does friendship mean to you? The audience is invited to experience, comtemplate and celebrate long friendships as opposed to modern day short-term friends and pretend-friends of the social media culture.

As we enter the auditorium, we are welcomed by the performers, both dressed in grey, holding honeydew melons: "Please take your seat and settle in." The stage is bare but there is an abundance of fruit dangling from the ceiling, some of which will be eaten or employed for other purposes. Using movement as well as words, Batzoglou and Papadelli tell the story of two friends - showing their closeness, their love for each other as well as their rivalry and irritation with their friend's flaws. Using phrases from the guest book, they define their friendship before they begin to play Truth or Dare, a revealing game that entails intense physicality and forces the characters to intimate confessions that eventually lead to unwanted hurtful comments and a temporary falling out.

Episodic scenes paint a picture of what friendship can include, from shared intimacy and deep trust to rivalry, jealousy and the fear of loneliness caused by the pregnancy of one friend as their friendship will change once the child has been born. There are intense moments when the characters erupt into open hostility. Yet a real friend will forgive and your friendship will endure.

An intriguing project that offers some interesting ideas on the nature of female friendship, beautiful images as well as slapstick entertainment.

By Carolin Kopplin

Candid was shown on 14 December at the Blue Elephant Theatre.

Running time: 45 minutes without an interval

Further information:


Dec 16th

Robin Hood at The Egg Theatre, Bath

By Clare Brotherwood

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the legend of Robin Hood has been around since 1377.

Greg Banks’ version, however, is bang up-to-date, opening with rough sleepers prowling the stage as one of them recalls the man who robbed the rich to feed the poor.

The characters may have been made homeless by Prince John but there are many today who are just like them, living on the streets and begging for food, while instead of Robin Hood we have charities such as Crisis and Shelter.

This production is far from downbeat, however. Yes, it’s got a heart. It’s a story with substance and some robust characters, but it is also rollicking, good entertainment, with a live band, songs, dancing and some audience participation. Banks, who also directs, is to be praised for fitting so many elements into 1 hr 50 mins, while the cast of four are to be applauded for their energy, physicality and all-round versatility.

Much of the fun is down to Thomas Johnson’s music, and lyrics co-written by him and Banks. It’s a mix of reggae, rap, Madness and The Proclaimers, with the cast belting out songs such as Liberation Day to rousing accompaniment from Amy Sergeant on guitar, Julie Walkington on double bass and Rhian Williams on drums. The fact that they perform these songs with hand-held mics and sometimes wear Blues Brothers-type sunglasses makes them extra-cool and identifiable to today’s young audiences

All four play a myriad of characters, only going to the side of the stage to instantly turn round transformed into a goodie or a baddie. But they each have major roles.

Peter Edwards is your archetypal hero, leaping from tree trunk to tree trunk firing imaginary arrows and being an all-round good egg (pun not intended). He’s brave but when he and Marion fall in love he is as soppy as you can get.

Although she gives in to the Sheriff of Nottingham to save her father, the character of Maid Marion is a lot more spirited, and her bravery, loyalty and love makes her a perfect role model for girls of today. It would be a better message to send out  if Robin had fallen in love with her because of her bravery rather than her beauty but, whichever, audiences will fall in love with Rebecca Killick (who also plays Much, an adolescent member of Robin’s Merry Men), a cracking little actress who has huge presence and even makes turning cartwheels look easy.

Nik Howden and Stephen Leask are at opposite ends of the scale. As the Sheriff of Nottingham, Howden is perfect as a thin, black-leathered, streak of evil, while Leask shows his comedic skills, playing Prince John as a figure of fun.

Performed in the round with Hannah Wolfe’s set of a clump of frosted tree trunks presenting challenges to the actors, this production for six-year-olds upwards is a real Christmas cracker, while The Egg, built specifically for use by young people inside a Grade II listed Victorian building, is a star in its own right.

Robin Hood is at The Egg Theatre, Bath, until January 15.

Box office: 01225 448844

Dec 14th

Dick Whittington at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Alison Smith

Reviewed by Alison Smith

Poster for Dick Whittington from

Pantomime is the perfect antidote to 2016’s negativity and MK Theatre’s Dick Whittington is at the forefront of frolics and forgetting. The narrative of the journey is only a device to explore a fantastic riot of silliness and fun and, of course, as in all treasured children’s tales, the goal is reached and goodness wins the day. The story is short and simple - a poor boy, Dick, makes his way to London and by overcoming adversity becomes a rich boy. 

Dick is played by Chris Jenkins. He is accompanied everywhere by his faithful cat. Tommy, (Sophie Hart) is a black and white bundle of rat-catching acrobatics.  Dick is handsome and catches the eye of Alice Fitzwarren – but the perfect pair are from opposite sides of the track. And who tries to derail their relationship,? None other than evil personified, the Queen Rat, portrayed excellently by Samantha Womack, and her gang of ratlets

Of course Queen Rat has adversaries in the form of Fairy Bowbells (Stacey Solomon), Sarah the Cook, the Pantomime Dame, (Kevin Brewis) and Idle Jack (Kev Orkian). Stacey Solomon is the weakest of the three; she tends to gabble at times and does not have such a stage presence as her fellow actors. Kevin Brewis is excellent, despite his hideous make-up and cumbersome costumes, his timing is superb, his voice strong.  But it is Kev Orkian who captures the audience from the outset and shines throughout the performance with his energy and antics; his puns are so bad they are funny. ‘A thief stole the garden gate; I didn’t say anything in case he took offence.’ Boom boom.  And throughout, for the adults, there is racy innuendo, centred mainly around the name Dick and sausages. The writer Eric Potts has cleverly interwoven local references into the script – Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard  - and topical matters – Holby City, Lush , Sharon Osborne, even Donald Trump. The song the Twelve Days of Christmas is a masterpiece of imagination and energy performed by Sarah the Cook, Idle Jack and Bosun Bill. It includes a bra that was made for three, 5 toilet rolls and water pistols fired gleefully and accurately into the audience.

The scenery is superb, vivid and sparkly in the court of the sultan and the Lord Mayor’s office, busy and crowded in the street and kitchen scene. One wonderful scene is the underwater tumbling and swimming of Dick and Tommy and, with 3D glasses, colourful coral with an array of sea -creatures , crabs, sharks , ,and even a huge octopus came to life, frighteningly close for some of the  small children.

The music, conducted by Uncle Barry, as Idle Jack referred to him, (Barry Robinson)  supervised by Steve Power, consists of a medley of well-known pop songs.  Notable is the song competition between Dick and Queen Rat when she sings in the style of Shirley Bassey, Kate Bush and he copies Tom Jones and Queen. Marvellous!

This is the best pantomime I have seen for many years. It is clever, risqué without being vulgar, full of music, laughter and energy. It is suitable for all ages. This will be a difficult panto to follow. 

Dick Whittington is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 15th January

0844 871 7652


Dec 13th

Aladdin @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Aladdin Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

Forget the Christmas ads starting in October, the festive season actually begins when panto starts!  Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a visit to your local theatre to see a pantomime, with its colourful costumes and sets, bawdy humour, audience participation, romance, singing and dancing, there’s something for everyone.

This year’s panto at The Waterside Theatre is Aladdin, with not one but two genies.  Former Eastenders actress, Michelle Collins, plays the Genie of The Ring , with Joel Ekperigin making a spectacular entrance as the Genie of The Lamp.  Joel started out as a street dancer before training full-time at the Wilkes Academy in 2014.  His acrobatic jumps and tumbles are breathtaking and add a new dimension to the show.

The cast work their socks off, especially Andy Collins who is run ragged as Wishee Washee in his annual rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist La Voix is perfectly cast in the role of Widow Twankey, with her garish costumes and has a mighty powerful singing voice.

Danny Colligan is also perfect as Aladdin, with just the right balance of sweet innocence and determination to win the hand of his beloved Princess Jasmine, played by reality TV star Jasmin Walia.

Nicholas Pound’s wonderfully deep, resonant voice is very strong as he creates the evil Abanazar, the audience loved to boo.  In his second panto at the Waterside, David Whitworth plays the Emperor and Chris Nelson plays PC Pong, as well as being the director.

The costumes and sets are absolutely divine, with a wonderful use of colours, textures and glitter, making the scenes look spectacular.

The show is full of energy and fun making it perfect family entertainment to make the most of the festive season.

To book tickets:


Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye



Dec 13th

New Spring Season at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

The new Spring Season at the Finborough Theatre features three rediscoveries by Arthur MillerB. S. Johnson and Victorian theatrical revolutionary T. W. Robertson, as well as three brand new plays including Dubailand which has just won the Finborough Theatre its tenth Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme Playwright in Residence Bursary, supported by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation, for new playwright Carmen Nasr

The season opens with two world premieres. Titas Halder’s debut play Run The Beast Down plays for a four week limited season from 31 January-25 February 2017, alongside Carmen Nasr’s award-winning Dubailand. The UK premiere of the Off Broadway hit, Halley Feiffer’s award-nominated black comedy I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard,plays from 28 February-25 March 2017 and runs concurrently with B. S. Johnson’s You’re Human Like The Rest Of Them, an evening of three short plays receiving their first UK productions in over 40 years plus a world stage premiere, playing Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between 5-21 March 2017.

The season comes to and end with two unique rediscoveries. Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy in its first professional London production in over 50 years, runs from 28 March-22 April 2017 alongside the first UK production in over 20 years of T.W. Robertson’s Caste, marking the 150th anniversary of the Victorian classic.

For full information, please visit the Finborough website here

Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED

Book Online here | Box Office 0844 847 1652 (Calls will cost 7ppm plus your network access charge.

Dec 11th

Benighted by J. B. Priestley at the Old Red Lion Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Benighted New Banner.jpg  

A Dark Night's Adventure...

After the highly successful 2015 Arthur Miller premiere No Villain, the Old Red Lion Theatre now presents the world premiere of Duncan Gates' stage adaptation of J. B. Priestley's novel. Benighted was brought to the screen by famed horror director James Whale as the 1932 classic The Old Dark House, one of the first films dealing with the theme of spooky houses in forlorn places.

Like in The Rocky Horror Show a couple is stranded in the countryside during a heavy thunderstorm. Margaret (Harrie Hayes) and Philip Waverton (Tom Machell) and their cheerful friend Roger Penderel (Matt Maltby) make their way to a dilipidated house on a hill to seek refuge from the inclement weather. Their welcome by the eccentric Mr Femm (Michael Sadler) and his even stranger sister Rebecca (Ross Forder) is as frosty as the house is uninviting. Despite a sip of gin and a change of clothes, the guests begin to feel increasingly uncomfortable in the ramshackle building. When they are joined by another couple, Sir William Porterhouse (Ross Forder) and his companion, a revue girl named Gladys Du Cane (Jessica Bay), they all agree that something is not quite right in the Femm residence. 

Michael Sadler, Benighted, credit Chris Gardner (2).jpg

Michael Sadler as Mr Femm

Created when J. B. Priestley was still a struggling writer, Benighted already shows the social conscience of the lifelong socialist as his characters, thrown together in the middle of nowhere, ponder moral questions. All of the characters are burdened with their own little unpleasant secrets, particulary jokester Roger Pendrell, who is still struggling with his traumatic experiences of World War I. The Great War plays an important part in Priestley's story, written only nine years after it ended, and still influencing the lives of those who survived it.

Adapting Priestley's novel that includes a good deal of soul searching and long monologues within the framework of a horror story is no mean feat and Duncan Gates has succeeded in creating a reasonable balance, making for an exciting and meaningful play featuring an impressive cast.

Harrie Hayes, Benighted, credit Chris Gardner (2).jpg

Harrie Hayes as Margaret Waverton

Yet Stephen Whitson's production cannot quite decide whether it wants to be a serious drama or a comedy. The tone swerves between moralistic discussion and comical horror story. At some point the characters become so nervous that they even jump when somebody is not present. The fight scene in slow motion complete with strobe lights is pure slapstick. These scenes jar somewhat with the serious tone of other parts of the play. The ending of the 80-minute play is rather abrupt and makes one wonder if there is more to come.

Gregor Donnelly's set design, an expressionistic vision of a haunted house, all angles and gloominess, dominated by a grandfather clock, and David Gregor's spine-tingling sound design greatly add to the spooky atmosphere of the production and the important themes of reality and illusion. 

An enjoyable, atmospheric production despite some minor flaws.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 7th January 2017

Old Red Lion Theatre

418 St John Street, London, EC1V 4NJ


Box Office: 0844 412 4307

Tuesday - Sunday at 7:30pm
Saturday & Sunday matinees 2.30pm
Tuesday matinee 27th December & 3rd January at 2.30pm, Wednesday matinee 4th January at 2.30pm
Thursday & Friday matinees 29th & 30th December, 5th & 6th January 2.30pm
No performances 12th, 19th, 24th & 25th December & 2nd January

Post-Show Discussions (Free to ticket holders) 

Tuesday 13th December - Join the adaptor of J.B. Priestley's "Benighted" Duncan Gates in a post show discussion with Actor Paul Shelly.

Running time: 80 minutes without an interval

Photographs by Chris Gardner.

Dec 11th

Sleeping Beauty at the Richmond Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Maureen Lipman as the Wicked Fairy in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugden - Copy.jpg

Maureen Lipman as Carabosse

For the first time in my life I feel free! 

The traditional pantomime at the Richmond Theatre is one of the highlights of the year in this lovely town, offering delightful entertainment for the entire family with amazing stage designs, beautiful costumes and featuring at least one big star. This year it is Maureen Lipman's turn to appear as the evil fairy Carabosse, a part she has played before with great success.

The show definitely focusses on the younger members of the audience. The foyer of the theatre is decorated as a castle and the show starts off with the announcement: "Turn off your mobile phone and turn up the volume of your children!", which was met with happy screaming as the curtain rose to a village scene right out of a fairy tale picture book and Princess Beauty's first day outside the castle walls. Closely guarded by Nurse Mollycoddle (Matt Rixon) aka "Nursie", Beauty discovers the excitement of the real world together with her friend Chester (Chris Jarvis), the court jester, Both Chris Jarvis and Matt Rixon know how to connect with the younger members of the audience, making Chester and Nursie truly endearing characters.

Lauren Hood as Princess Beauty, Matthew Rixon as Nanny and Dan Partridge as Prince Antonio in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugd

Nursie (Matt Rixon) protecting Beauty's (Lauren Hood) innocence from the bold Prince (Dan Partridge)

And Maureen Lipman enjoys every second of her performance as Carabosse, accepting boos and hisses as her special badge of honour. Arriving in a dragon wagon and wearing a sexy vamp outfit, Carabosse is a formidable sight indeed. And she becomes ever more frightening when she begins to sing, making Florence Foster Jenkins appear a gifted opera diva in comparison. Accompanied by devils and ravens, the fearsome Carabosse announces that her curse on Beauty will take effect before Beauty's 18th birthday.

Meanwhile Beauty is taking a walk in the forest where she encounters the dashing Prince of Aragon (Dan Patridge), who is in search of a bride - and it seems that he has found her! Yet before the Prince can present himself to Beauty's parents and ask the King for the hand of his daughter, Carabosse's curse fulfills itself and Beauty falls into a 100-year long sleep whilst the Prince is abducted by Carabosse who means to make him her husband. 

Tilly Ford as Lilac Fairy (front centre) and the Ensemble in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugden.jpg

The Lilac Fairy (Tilly Ford) in all her splendour

The book by Eric Potts does not offer a lot of surprises but the children loved the colourful show, directed by Chris Jarvis, which emphasises humour rather than romance. The adults in the audience appreciated the local references and the satirical quips on current political events and had as much fun as the children when some of the gifts in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song were replaced by other less desirable items. The music includes pop songs from the 1970s through today, including the "Time Warp" which takes us back to Beauty's childhood when she grew up with the "Chiswick Chav".

Apart from the lovely Lauren Hood and Dan Partridge as the princely couple, the excellent Maureen Lipman as Carabosse, the delightful Chris Jarvis as Chester and the endearing Matt Rixon as Nursie, one must not forget to mention Graham James and Tania Newton as Beauty's parents - the King who is somewhat hard of hearing and his Chiswick-Queen.

The stage design and costumes were often held in pink which might have pleased many of the little girls in the audience but I don't think the boys minded too much either.

A delightful evening out for the whole family. 

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 8th January 2017

Richmond Theatre
The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1QJ

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including one interval


Photographs by Craig Sugden.

Dec 11th

Strictly Ballroom - The Musical


In what is quite a coup for the West Yorkshire Playhouse the award winning Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom - The Musical has received its premier in the UK at the venue.  I usually associate the venue with plays and not musicals. The playhouse has a sunken stage with seating all around which makes it ideal for watching the dancing.

If you want to cast your winter blues away the show is the perfect antidote: colourful, glitzy, funny  and as you would expect, brilliant dancing. Within the first 5 minutes of the curtain going up there was more glam, hairspray and glitz than you would be hard to find in 2 hours in some shows. The larger than life characters have personalities as bold as the dancers costumes.

The story revolves around Scott Hastings (Sam Hastings) who sets out to win the Pan Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championship contest in Australia where the musical is set. His parents have entered the contest when they were younger but alas did not win. 

In true Cinderella style the young Fran (Gemma Sutton) who is the overlooked cleaner at the dance school takes off her glasses and shows her dance moves by teaching Scott how to dance from the heart. Of course there is competition for Sam to dance instead with the glamorous Tina Sparkle (Charlotte Gooch).

There are the pushy parents too, Sam's mother, Shirley Hastings is played brilliantly by Tasmin Carroll, always pushy and at times forceful she had some of the best lines of the night. The downtrodden husband Doug Hastings (Stephen Matthews) is at times feeble letting his wife take centre stage.

Richard Dempsey as the host of the show played JJ Silvers with an over the top charm, sometimes like a younger version of Shane Richie with his comic mannerisms.  One of the best sequences of the first half is when Fran's Spanish father, Rico (Fernando Mira) shows Scot how to really dance the Paso Doble. His dancing had the whole audience spellbound.

There are the songs too, Scott and Fran duet well on the Cyndi Lauper track, Time After Time, the John Paul Young hit, Love Is in the Air is sung twice, in the first half they slow it down and you think it was a missed opportunity to sing the song at its original pace until you find that the song is sung in the correct style in the superb finale. It was of the songs had been written fir the musical as their lyrical content fitted in well with the storyline.

The night ends as spectacular as it started with the dancers in the show even walking up the aisles during the finale.

As Scott's mother, Shirley is fond  of saying throughout the evening "I'm wearing my happy face today", you will be wearing your happy face too when you have seen this colourful and spectacular show with, as you would expect, awesome dancing. A triumph for everyone involved.

Runs until Saturday 21 January 2017

Telephone: 0113 213 7700