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You are in: Norfolk » Going Out » Stage

07 August 2004 0902 BST
Picture: Tony Mallion Old Time Music Hall at Gorleston

review by: Tony Mallion

This production rated: Four stars out of five

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The cast of the Old Time Music Hall
Here we are in the 21st century finding people still flocking to an entertainment which is firmly rooted in the 19th!

Performing arts from BBCi Events
Gorleston Pavilion Theatre

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The show runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.45pm until Thursday 7 October 2004.

There is a matinee performance each Wednesday at 2pm.

Pavilion Theatre
Pier Gardens
Gt Yarmouth
NR31 6PP

Box office:
01493 662832.

Tickets cost £10
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It's one of the country's longest running summer shows - the Old Time Music Hall at Gorleston Pavilion - which opened in May and runs through to mid-October.

When the Daily Mirror did a survey of seaside resorts it summed up Great Yarmouth as being locked in the past and unchanging.

This, they suggested, was best illustrated by Cannon and Ball still appearing at the Britannia Pier and the Old Time Music Hall being performed at Gorleston Pavilion.

No-one would suggest that Old Time Music Hall is cutting edge entertainment, yet it still pulls in the crowds by the coachload.

Dancers dressed for Anything Goes!

It's unashamedly old fashioned, the audience is - as you would expect - of more mature years and they're out to enjoy themselves at what is a colourful and lively variety show.

And, just like Cromer Pier and its theatre, it's Gorleston Pavilion itself which adds so much to the overall package.

I admit to being biased where the Pavilion is concerned. It's my local theatre, and I've been going there since I was a youngster.

Having said that, in my youth it was a somewhat dreary council-run theatre with rows of seats and, if the truth be told, not a great deal of atmosphere.

In the 1960s the council turned from concert party-style shows to old time music hall. Out went the theatre seats and in came chairs and tables.

Eventually the council washed their hands of a venture which was still losing money. Not even the legendary Dick Condon of Norwich's Theatre Royal could turn it round.

Local entertainer Carl Adams took over the show and the theatre in the 1980s and then nine years ago Stuart Durrant and Kevin Lynch took it on.

They've done so much to improve the theatre.

It's just been carpeted and there's a rich colour scheme - all of which makes the ornate stage look even more impressive.

Gorleston's got that slightly quaint feel about it.

The theatre oozes charm so by the time you're sitting down you're ready to soak up something which could either be described as old fashioned or simply timeless.

The show is familiar enough stuff with almost the same line-up each year. But the song and dance routines change even if the jokes don't.

Holding it all together as the compere is the very talented Steve Ace. He's an accomplished performer who has the audience on his side from the word go.

Not that audiences at the Pavilion need much encouragement. They're only too willing to sing along at the slightest provocation and will happily "ooh" and "aaah" at the compere's time-honoured wordy introductions.

Douglas Gorin is a singer with a powerful voice.

There's a team of dancers and completing that side is the likeable Robert Wall and Jacqui Kelly-Doddington. Their version of The Last Night Of The World from Miss Saigon was memorable.

Nearly all of the cast are local but it's a special pleasure to see youngster Anna Stagg making her professional debut this year.

Topping the bill - as he has done for the last nine years - is Nigel Boy Syer. He's an able musician whose brand of Norfolk humour goes down well with the audience.

True he has a one-track mind - a bit of a dirt track - but with his combination of cheekiness and gormlessness he gets away with it.

The show is well presented with lots of colourful costumes, effective lighting and a fixed set which works really well.

It's a feast for the eye. The song and dance medleys were well done. And, as one who loves Cole Porter's tunes, the finale featuring the best from Anything Goes, was a tremendous tap dancing finish which sent us all off happily into the night.


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