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Review of the NMPAT Festival 2015 at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

For over five hours over the nights of Wednesday and Thursday I managed to sit enthralled by the varied, fun and heartwarming performances of hundreds of local children. Organised with the help of Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT), Karen Bailey, Anna Carter and compered with panache by Leigh Wolmarans. This two night feast brought together the work of thirty six schools and groups to provide entertainment for everyone. The packed out audience certainly agreed as they all got into the spirit of supporting all the performances, even allowing for the fact that the bulk of them were perhaps generally there to support their own child.

In his opening speech Mr Wolmarans requested that we applaud them all, support all, there were no winners. I whole heartily agree, on these two evenings all those children that put effort into their performances, of whatever standard, were champions. These were not at home giving kids a bad name, playing video games, trolling on social media. These were the often forgotten army of those that do stuff.

I must not review this show in a manner of others because as already said there are no winners here, all are. I will however pick out a few moments from the two evenings which gives an example of the delights on offer. Opening both second parts on both nights, we were treated to two great body shaking rock performances from Northampton Rock School - Ground Floor and Corby Rock School - Take Them (to the Woods). They were both excellent, and if you would like to check out the former, they are on the Market Square stage at noon on Sunday as part of the Northampton Music Festival. Well worth catching.

Dance was a prominent part of the event also, with many leaning towards the street variety, like that from Beat Project Dance Company. Headlands gave us a combination of salsa, waltz and jive with their own live music and Eastfield Academy gave us a performance to Grease's We Go Together. Contemporary dance was also provided by All Saints CEVA Primary School and Nursery Unit, which spiralled off into more street towards the end.

There were numerous pure singing performances with Broadway Belles excellent interpretation of the "ultimate four chord song". The NMPAT Youth Choir gave an alternative take on a traditional choir with their performance of Nine to Five.

Finally we had some acting influenced pieces including Rectory Farm Primary School offering some Shakespeare, which for myself was thankfully diluted with some Michael Jackson Thriller antics. The final mention goes to Northgate School Arts College for their positively uplifting little piece based on the sublime Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time. Just wonderful.

Indeed the whole two evenings were wonderful. The perfect proof that all children of today should not be put into the same trouble causing, can't be bothered attitude and that these wonderful stars, everyone of them, gets out there and does something special. And on these two nights, very special indeed.



Performances reviewed: Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th June, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Details of Royal & Derngate can be found by visiting their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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