Saturday, 18 May 2013

Review: We'll Meet Again at Derby Assembly Rooms.

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews on 15th May 2013

Duggie Chapman’s enormously popular touring matinee show, We’ll Meet Again has been going for fifteen years and the performance at Derby Assembly Rooms is part of the farewell tour that continues across the UK until June. It is a packed calendar of dates and if the audiences respond anything like this Derby audience we could well see a “we’ll be back again” tour.

The entertainment is pure “hits from the blitz” nostalgia, a heart-warming mélange of comedy, music and song. The largely elderly audience lapped up every second, claiming the upbeat show as their own, enthusiastically singing along when at all possible with the artiste. It truly is an afternoon of patriotic music and fun with all of the seasoned cast and band performing with gusto.

A special mention must be made of the two piece band comprising keyboard (Martyn St James) and percussion (Phil Jeffrey). The sterling work of these two musicians really enhances the show throughout the whole two and a bit hours. As well as providing live backing music for the artistes they also provide comic sound effects and comic beats during the frequent elements of comedy. Both well-seasoned professional musicians, they clearly show their own enjoyment in working variety shows.

The five artistes that make up the wonderfully varied entertainment in this revue style cavalcade are all top notch professionals and despite the heavy schedule of their rigorous touring programme they come across as fresh and enthusiastic as if it were day one. Adam Daye is the main comic turn, turning out quality impression after quality impression and demonstrating consummate comedy skills in the various skits and comedy routines. His relaxed approach and easy confidence has the audience eating out of this hand and laughing out loud at his wit.

Marilyn Hill Smith is the only female in the show and she charms the audience throughout with her singing that goes from soft melodies, Vera Lynn songs, soaring romance from Ivor Novello to a well-received special request number from The Sound Of Music. She certainly climbs every vocal mountain and gets to the patriotic, flag-waving top, with style.

Andy Eastwood wows the audience with his brilliant ukelele playing firstly as George Formby and later playing a stunning version of the William Tell Overture. Like many a seasoned performer he makes it all look effortless but there is years of practice behind his talent.

Mervyn Francis entertains and sparkles throughout and is particularly strong on the Al Jolson Sings section. Jamie Steen pays tribute to the late Max Bygraves and has the audience singing along enthusiastically to his medley of forties favourites.

The whole We’ll Meet Again afternoon’s entertainment is a fast paced whirlwind of first class performances and this elderly Derby audience joined in with heart-warming enthusiasm. This is a show guaranteed to uplift any age and make you feel proud to be sharing the best of British spirit.

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