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Review of A Slice Of Variety by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The productions from the Northampton Musical Theatre Company are rarely released gems of fun amounting to a single, maybe two if you are lucky, productions a year. A Slice Of Variety this weekend at the Royal was not a full show production, but an absolute smorgasbord of delights. Predominantly performances of songs from the shows, there was also a bit of dancing, some magic and a couple of genial hosts.

Opening the show was a rousing and impressive performance of "Flash Bang Wallop" from Half A Sixpence featuring the full company. It was indeed a curtain raiser for the wonderful two and a half hours of entertainment to come. We were then soon introduced to our first host of the evening (and my favourite) NMTC president Cliff Billing. I enjoyed his appearances more than our later host BBC Northampton's Willy Gilder as his condescending, deadpan delivery had a wonderful charm. Where Mr Gilder was the more professional, I enjoyed the element of randomness and danger from Mr Billing more.

With twenty four separate acts through the show, I can of course not go through them all individually, so I will pick out a select bunch that took my eye. The NMTC concert group made three appearances during the show with their medleys, and while they were all great, my favourite was the Mary Poppins one for the shear enthusiasm of the performance, finishing with a superbly performed "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".

In each act Mr Clive Fletcher as two very different characters gave us a bit of the variety part of the show with his impressive magic act. The second half trick was the neatest and with added audience danger (handled with aplomb), once he was able to find a willing volunteer that is.

One of the funniest musical acts of the evening came from Dawn Hall and Robert Laurie and their "16 Going On 17" from The Sound Of Music. A pitch perfect performance with Dawn's facial expressions an absolute delight and I think it was the favourite of the evening judging by the reaction of the crowd. Also a delight were the appearances of the very, very talented bunch of children, who gave a performance in each of the two acts. My favourite was certainly the Bugsy Malone one as the music is familiar to me. However I think the actual performance of the Matilda one was probably the best as a group.

Closing the first half were two incredible acts, the first featuring a stunning turn by Sue Roan and her performance of Vilja from The Merry Widow. Very probably the best solo performance of the evening. This was soon followed by an incredible show stopping "Masquerade" from The Phantom Of The Opera by the whole company. Two amazing acts to close the first half.

The second half opened with an impressive on the eye dance routine from 42nd Street with some stunningly good dancing going on. Among the many other highlights of the second half was Brett Hanson and his performance of Ol' Man River from Showboat. A gloriously deep voice with great backing from the company. The company were also key in the next act of a medley from The Boyfriend, although there was some serious scene stealing going on from the wonderful Eleanor Digby and Mark Woodham in their performance of "It's Never Too Late". Ooo bee doo indeed.

The final three main acts were also worth waiting for as Katy Batchelor and Lisa Simpson and some awesome dancing gave us one of the best song tunes, "America" from West Side Story, Then Beth Hodgson and Dan Hodson gave us the comic turn of A Song That Goes Like This from Spamalot. It wasn't too long for me! Then finally the last main act was a feast for the gentleman's eyes as we had the delicious "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago. A very nice way to end the evening.

Except not quite, as we were treated to a little advance from the October main show Sister Act. It closed a really entertaining evening from performers of an extremely high standard which was totally appreciated from the sell out audience. Just a lovely, lovely evening. Congratulations to all involved.


Performance viewed: Saturday 9th May, 2015 (evening) at the Royal & Derngate (Royal).

The Northampton Musical Theatre Company performed A Slice Of Variety on Saturday 9th May, 2015. Their website can be found at http://www.nmtc.me.uk/, while they are also on Twitter @theNMTC

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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