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Review of Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire's Celebrate Northampton at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

You would probably be hard pushed to find a show of such contrasting quality on the Derngate stage than Celebrate Northampton. There was much brilliance at times, but also some, saying in my kindest way possible, less good. However it was totally unimportant about the quality on such a night, because it just did not matter. Celebrate Northampton was just a joyful couple of hours or so of ordinary people being 100% braver than I would be and seizing that chance to perform on the Derngate stage.

The show was broken into two separate parts with the pre-interval a dance orientated one and after the interval a full choir. The show was introduced by VIN Chief Executive Jane Carr, hosted by John Fisher and the choir directed by the seemingly omnipresent Gareth Fuller.

I rather unexpectedly enjoyed the first half of the show the most, despite the fact that I was looking forward to the choir part having experienced and enjoyed a few in recent months. Maybe its that the dance part offered a constantly changing spectrum with Indian dance, Sikh drumming and the revelation of belly dancing from the Haraam Arab/Egyptian Dance Troupe. My favourites of the half though were the stunning performances by Starlight Stage School and Ashby's School Of Dance. They were simply stunning and their routines were themselves a constantly evolving beast, with quick music changes and styles of dance. They were the pick of the night for me.

The choir while spectacular was oddly an anticlimax. Don't get me wrong I loved it (although I have to say that there were sound issues for me, I think the volume on the speakers was just too loud), and they performed an impressive variety of songs with the last two Heal The World and Rather Be my favourites. It was just a little less impressive than I had hoped.

So a mixed bag of quality, but an absolute delight of an evening simply because these people were having fun and we couldn't help but have fun with them. I left with a happy grin upon the face and that can never be a bad thing.

*

As a side note to my review, there was something even more prominent than usual last night with the audience. With these public performance shows the bulk of the audience is made up of friends and family of performers and it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that sadly these are not the best kind of theatre goers. I always expect a certain amount of fluid movement in these shows now with people coming and going. However from my slightly lofty position last night in a circle box, I saw an even more ugly occurrence from a few people. First of all putting in context, there was a lot of filming going on last night on mobiles (I believe that this was accepted for this show). However what I noticed last night were people filming single parts which were obviously their family/friends, which was fine. What wasn't fine for me, was that some of these got up and left after they had filmed their pieces. While I know nothing can be done about this, it smacks of a horrifying disrespect for the other performers and comes as a huge disappointment to me. There you go, axe grinded.

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