The Cromer Pier show 2022
Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier
Producer: Openwide Coastal- Director: Rob McVeigh
From July to October1st
Reviewer: Mark Ritchie
There is an old saying about the best laid plans and this was very much the case as I headed for Cromer on a hot July day to catch a matinee show. A comfort break enroute at the Pretty Corner tea rooms, near to the Queens palatial pad at Sandringham, produced a misjudgement in time and I rushed out of the sunshine and up the pier in sunny Cromer to catch the show, arriving just in time. With the aid of a front of house manager called Nic and a helpful programme seller, I was soon in my seat sipping an icy soft drink just as the curtain went up.
There was very nearly a full-house for the matinee, as a thoughtfully placed video screen brought the genesis of the show to life, with an infusion of musical Electricity, Billy Elliot style. The video screen was used to great effect again as James Bond dropped in to Cromer, apparently making a beeline for the Pier. The wildly enthusiastic audience seemed both shaken and stirred by what turned out to be one of the great summer shows of our time.
Guest comedians feature at varying intervals during the Cromer summer run and comedy magic act Andy Leach was the man on-stage here. Mr Leach delivers a slick and fast-moving confection of conjuring capers, presented in a cruise ship cabaret style.
If you have ever attempted to pat your head whilst rubbing your stomach, you will appreciate the many talents of former Cirque Du Soleil performer Nadia Lumley. Ms Lumley performs the kind of circus skills, physical contortions and acrobatics that border on the impossible.
The whole show revolves around the multi-talented Ben Nickless, who may well be our new number-one British all-round entertainer. By doing a lot of things well and never attempting to derail, upstage or overcome fellow performers, Mr Nickless may well be a sort of 21st century Bruce Forsyth. If young Ben is ambitious and has been bitten by the fame bug, I’m afraid he may be disappointed. Alas, artistes with this kind of breadth in comedy, impressions, dance and music are usually overlooked by the Oxbridge alumni, who call the shots in telly-land these days. I hear he has recently been strutting his stuff on one of the Cowell TV talent-shows and good luck to him of course, but I can’t help thinking that in any other age of television, the personal star of Ben Nickless would shine much brighter.
Musical MD Nigel Hodge and the singers and dancers of the cast were just about as perfect as any cast could be. American singer Ferdinand de Leon looks and sounds like a perfect smooth and self-assured transatlantic visitor to Cromer. Female lead Holly Jane Crowter, triumphed despite the occasional microphone effects problem and seems like the real deal as a leading lady.
For this reviewer, following an afternoon of showbiz glitter and glamour, it was then very much a case of strolling back up the pier, passing the sunburnt ice-cream lickers and those devouring fish and chips and heading off on a long drive back home to Yorkshire.