With Spectacular in the name, it sets the bar high for audience expectations… but does the show live up to its name? 

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular has been running for 45 years! Each year a tiny village in Norfolk gets decorated for the festive season, and coach loads of people come to this otherwise unknown location, to watch the Spectacular, a Christmas variety show.

First of all, we should talk about the decor. The Thursford Collection is usually a museum housing steam engines, organs and fairground attractions. But it’s been redecorated to resemble Santa’s grotto, it’s extravagant with so much attention to detail, and imparts a magical feeling on everyone as soon as they enter the gates. There’s a magical journey, with Santa’s grotto at the centre, and a light trial that’s simply stunning when darkness falls. With Christmas shops selling a variety of festive fayre. The whole place really is a sight to behold, and the best way to get into the festive spirit.

The auditorium is also similarly decorated, with a carousel next to the stage. The show has a variety of acts such as hula hoops, cyr wheel, bounce juggling and hand balancing, slotted in between singing and dancing numbers and Kev Orkian as comedian and compare. Orkian’s comedy is great, and kept the audience engaged throughout the entire show. 

There’s a variety of musical theatre numbers included in the show, including a stunning performance of Gypsy’s ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ by Jessica Poole, a colourful high energy performance of Hairspray’s ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ and my personal favourite ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’ from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with sticks and all. The vocal performances are sublime throughout, with perfectly performed harmonies, especially during the Christmas carols, these harmonies really do take your breath away. 

Stephen Adnitt’s costumes are spectacular, with each number coming with a costume change for the entire company, and it’s clear to see no expense has been spared on this show. From showgirl costumes to marching band uniforms – every costume is fully realised and elevates the show wonderfully.

The choreography by Tracey Lliffe features a variety of dancing styles – there’s everything from an Irish dancing number to can can dancing. The dancers are on stage for the majority of the 3 hour run time (25 min interval). Yet the dancing remains high energy throughout and not a single beat is missed. 

The orchestra is one of the largest I’ve ever seen, and magical to watch. A special mention to Phil Kelsall is required – he’s been in the show for 43 of its 45 years playing the Wurlitzer Organ, some close up camera angles showed just how complex this instrument is to play and how much of a master Kelsall is at playing it.

Tickets may be pricey, but the show is worth every penny. I did wonder if the show needed to have quite such a long run time, but with how far some members of the audience had travelled to be there, it’s probably good that the show is rather lengthy. 

In short, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular definitely lives up to the name ‘spectacular’, there really is something for everyone in this show and I really cannot think of a better way to get into the Christmas spirit. One thing is for certain – you won’t leave disappointed! Bravo to everyone involved, this really is a spectacular show!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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