Christmas stars shine at Snape

Christmas Spectacular, presented by the Co-op Juniors at Snape Maltings until December 21 and Charter hall, Colchester, December 27 and 28.A Glittering explosion of colour, song and dance brings the magic of Christmas to life in this most festive of shows.

Lynne Mortimer

Christmas Spectacular, presented by the Co-op Juniors at Snape Maltings until December 21 and Charter hall, Colchester, December 27 and 28.

A GLITTERING explosion of colour, song and dance brings the magic of Christmas to life in this most festive of shows.

After a stunning night's entertainment, the first thing you want to do after the fabulous finale is wrap up the Co-op Juniors' Spectacular and give it to someone you love for Christmas.


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More than 100 performers pack the stage in non-stop production of seasonal songs, show tunes, classical favourites and even a novel rap ballet. Most of the company is young and it would take a harder heart than Scrooge's not to be melted by the sheer joy, energy and professionalism of the performances - right from the tinies with their fierce determination to get it right, to the seniors with their consummate song and dance skills.

Behind the hundreds of costumes are an army of devoted parents and friends who stitch, sew and then turn up to dress the youngsters - there are more than 80 people listed in the programme.

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Musical director Nigel Virley provides a soundtrack tailored to the talents of the cast and there is some tremendous playing - the Country Hoedown orchestration was fantastic.

There cannot be a better song and dance troupe for young people anywhere in the country. Pauline Walker and Jeannie Ingram's precision direction brings out the best in their performers and Kerry Sayer's choreography showcases all the dancing talent.

The lighting, under the direction of Alan Ayres, is superb. The stage is as beautifully dressed and effective as the performers.

This year guest choreographers include Vince Redmon, a former Junior who went on to the Royal Ballet School and danced with the Royal Ballet and Ballet Rambert before becoming a ballet master at Rambert. He is one of a goodly number of Juniors who have gone on to become professional dance stars.

A razzle-dazzle opening in white and silver sets the mood for a first half full of musical variety. Jingle Bell Rock, an Abba sequence, a touching rendition of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl narrated by Thomas Haigh, carols, a comedy song from Clare Goad and Chris Gordon, a boys own number and a rousing Stars and Stripes act one finale - where do you find all that red, white and blue sparkly fabric? - is a real winter warmer.

The second half features the largest number of Santas ever seen on the Maltings stage and possibly any stage. The sight of 47 small to medium-sized padded gentlemen in full Santa costumes, beards included, is a total delight.

A gospel section, Seventies celebration, Julie Locke's tender singing of Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and a hoedown danced at breathtaking pace head towards a grand finale bursting with streamers, snow and goodwill to all mankind.

And so this is Christmas.

Lynne Mortimer

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