What a suprisingly entertaining evening! Craig Revel Horwood has managed to create a corker of a show from what I was expecting to be a rather tired vehicle. He has been helped enormously by the huge talent that is Alexandra Burke and by a cast so engaged with the process that they sweep you along with aplomb. Fast, camp and visually engaging this is a worthy evening's entertainment for anyone's money.
I do actually like musicals where the actors themselves provide most of the music. Having them play instruments as they act does not, for me, distract in any way from the performance and indeed on occasions gives them an extra prop or freedom they might not otherwise have - as well as something to do with their hands! The cast in this production really hold the show together without the usual segregation of principles and chorus, each takes their part as needed to fill the stage and keep the plot moving along - a good job as it still made for quite a late night! It is a genuine delight to me to see a company so involved in what they're doing; acting off-line was strong throughout so wherever you looked, even up into the corners of the balcony, the focus and energy were there all the time.
A joyous production played at full throttle which carried an appreciative audience along with it - and a bit of a hoot watching Craig Revel Horwood standing in the stalls doing the arm-ography to the closing numbers. When the pre-recorded Craig at the start of the show said "I am not in the auditorium" there was a chorus from the audience of "oh yes you are" - panto season really is just around the corner!