CHRISTMAS CRACKERS ***** REVIEWED by Paul Levie for The Herald Express
Babbacombe’s new Christmas show ‘Christmas Crackers’ is a monster hit – and not just because its first night was on Halloe’en.
It lives up to its name from start to breathless finish with a non-stop mix of laughs, glamour, magic and sparkle.
The secret is a tight cast full of talent and flexibility, who feel more like friends and loved ones to the adoring audience.
After all, pulling a cracker with a complete stranger is no fun at all.
The show unashamedly centres on the talents of its two principals – Andy Oakley and Lily Laight. But in pitch-perfect singers Paul Cobley and Sami-Jane Slater and the irrepressible comedy magician Peter Baffles, the pair has a class act alongside them.
And this year we see the debut of a new Babbacombe star in handsome young vocalist Simon Stuart.
Finally, the whole show is sewn together by the ever-improving Danze Magique who literally never put a foot wrong all night.
So what’s the secret of these Christmas crackers?
Firstly Andy Oakley has proved himself once again to be the funniest, most original comedian around. This year he celebrates 40 years in showbiz and for at least 20 of those he’s been my very favourite comic. Watch out for his jaw-dropping William Tell Overture sketch. Brilliant.
Then there’s the unbelievably gifted Lily Laight – granddaughter of a rock singer and a dancer, and daughter of another dancer and a well-above average Torquay United centre forward. She’s Torquay through and through even though she’s starred in the West End, Broadway and Hollywood.
She can handle anything from ballet to burlesque, ballads to belters and has a stage presence that keeps the audience transfixed. And she’s still only 16!
But Lily’s not the only singing talent on display in this brilliant show. Sami-Jane has a superb range and great delivery. And she slips effortlessly into the dance routines with the show’s other Christmas crackers, Danze Magique. She’s a real diamond.
And talking of talent, Peter Baffles lives up to his name time and time again with show-stopping tricks and illusions. Look out for his bowling ball in a briefcase and his duck in a bucket.....priceless.
Colin Matthews’ direction is slick and seamless, and Sadie Oliver’s choreography is smooth and sexy. The music is faultless and the costumes superb (particularly in the Disney sketches)
So, in all, Christmas Crackers is a brilliant name for this show. The girls are crackers, the jokes are crackers. And Andy Oakley is definitely crackers! Long may they all continue.