For years I have heard people rave about the spectacle that is Showstoppers by Wales Musical Theatre Company. Now I know why.
My first visit was to the sixth annual production at Worksop’s Acorn Theatre.
It was a full house on Friday night – the second of a three night run.
As soon as the curtains opened I knew I was in for a great night.
An amazing array of African animals stood proudly and roared the opening bars of The Circe of Life from the Lion King.
Costumes and choreography sprang out from the stage as a cast of all ages performed a further three songs from the famous Disney film.
Little Gracie Woods did a riotous turn as lion cub-come-king Simba in I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.
While Dan Schofield, Joseph Bairstow and James Moore faithfully reconstructed the hilarious ditty Hakuna Matata.
Next up was the ‘aww’ inspiring junior chorus with a selection of magical tunes from Alice in Wonderland.
Lots of little Alices bopped around the stage alongside the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee, Rabbit and other creatures creating a pitch perfect portrayal of Wonderland.
Never ones to shy away from the biggest of musical numbers, the company then delved into the soundtrack to 1992 movie The Bodyguard.
Alison Wade wowed the audience with a jaw dropping rendition of I Will Always Love You.
Hannah Goodchild stunned with an energetic How Will I Know? as Jess Lyons led a fabulous hareem of singers and dancers bedecked in gold sequins and equipped with enviable dance moves.
And Lynne Schofield was simply fabulous, proclaiming she wanted to ‘Dance With Somebody’ as the senior chorus salsa-stepped on the stage behind her.
Songs selected from everybody’s favourite summer romance Dirty Dancing saw a colour pop of 1960s fashion flirt before our eyes.
The senior chorus were transformed into prim teenage holidaymakers for Kellerman’s Anthem, led by bright young heartthrob Brandon Fletcher.
The atmosphere was ramped up for the showstopper (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life which was expertly sung by the senior chorus.
It brought a tear to my eye and the most rapturous applause from the audience.
Just as I thought emotions couldn’t run any higher, Act One finished with songs from Oh What a Lovely War! - commemorating the WW1 centenary.
Union Jacks were wafted by audience members as they enjoyed some authentic wartime entertainment.
Nicholas Challenger raised a smile as he transformed into a familiarly glamourous gal for I’m The Girl With a Little Bit Extra.
Male and female groups got the tight harmonies spot-on as they gathered around the mic stand for Yes Sir That’s My Baby, Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
Then the adult chorus of uniformed and civilian singers oozed patriotism as they sang Land of Hope and Glory. Goodness knows where their vintage outfits were sourced from, but they emulated the wartime era immaculately.
During the interval a safety briefing was delivered by space age stewards in preparation for Act 2’s opening number.
Although it wasn’t a musical I was familiar with, I was totally absorbed by what I saw of Return to the Forbidden Planet.
The senior chorus adopted the shiny and shrill characteristics of a space ship crew who are on course for a crash-landing during the song Polarity Reversal.
I was particularly impressed with the choreography which cleverly simulated the unsteady journey.
The next song, I did know – Great Balls of Fire – performed by Brandon Fletcher with superb confidence and enviable hip swivels.
Miss Saigon ramped up the raunch as we were transported to sleazy club Dreamland where the Showstoppers adult chorus writhed around as US Marines and Vietnamese working girls.
Emily Rowles gave a sweet solo performance during The Heat Is On In Saigon before Lucas Brammer delivered a rousing rendition of The American Dream.
I admit to not being au fait with the Miss Saigon set list but I enjoyed what I heard and would like to see the West End show.
Family favourites from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were performed in collaboration between the junior and senior choruses.
Toni Lemm looked and sounded the part as Truly Scrumptious accompanied by her magical automobile and a sea of sweet little singers.
But it was the final set of the night that sealed the deal for much of the audience. Huge hair, torn t-shirts, faded denim and lashings of leather stormed on stage for Rock of Ages.
Jess Lyons kicked things off with a brave solo performance of Guns N’ Roses’ classic Paradise City.
Then things mellowed with a stripped down acoustic version of More Than Words. Hannah Goodchild. Alison Wade and Anna Kozak delivered spine tingling harmonies.
Dave Froggatt rocked out to Here I Go Again by Whitesnake, getting everyone’s feet tapping. And the adult chorus reunited in full 80s grunge get-ups for Starship’s anthem We Built This City – one of the biggest crowd pleasers of the night.
Exhausted but exhilirated, the cast united on stage to deafening applause before giving it their all in the encore – Don’t Stop Believing. Dan Schofield, resplendent and totally at home in his ripped jeans and rock t-shirt proved he had a big voice to match his big personality as he dueted with Alison Wade. James Moore shone during his electric guitar solo and the stamina of the chorus was a sight to behold.
I left the Acorn awestruck by this inspirational musical community who had laid on a true spread of Showstoppers. How so much talent can hail from the small villages of Kiveton and Wales is beyond me..