Without doubt the best ever”. ***** Fantazy review by Paul Levie for The Herald Express

There’s a new star in the firmament at Babbacombe Theatre this summer, and his name is Gaz Hocking.

After circumnavigating the globe countless times crooning on cruise ships, he has decided to settle down on dry land.

And lucky for us, he has chosen Torbay, where you don’t get much closer to the sea than the cliff tops at Babbacombe.

For 37 consecutive years Babbacombe Theatre has held the record for the longest-running summer show, entertaining well over half a million holidaymakers with hits, happiness, and hilarity.

I reckon I’ve been to just about every one of those shows, and this year’s offering - Fantazy - is without doubt the best ever.

We may be lucky to be welcoming Gaz to South Devon.  But he is even luckier to be joining a cast of flawless professionals who always leave their audiences begging for more.

Headlining the show is the incomparable Steve Laister who is both a brilliant comic and singer – effortlessly switching from slapstick to musical comedy, interspersed with wicked one-liners, most of which he’s written himself.

He sews the show together like an intricate tapestry, enhancing but not overshadowing his fellow performers.

Not that anyone could overshadow the show’s two brilliant songstresses Holly Cosgrove and Lorna Amy Sullivan.  They have magnificent voices in both solos and duets and have bonded perfectly with newcomer Gaz.

Currently writing and recording her second album, Holly has an incredible range and power.  It’s no wonder she is a former contestant on TV’s The Voice.

And Lorna is an absolute gem at musical comedy and has ample opportunities to show it with the versatile Laister.

And now that Gaz has joined Steve, Holly, and Lorna, you’ve got just about every conceivable option covered.

No Babbacombe show would be complete without a little bit of magic.  But Matt Grindley is no ordinary magician.  He’s the original cheeky chappie who has a wonderful chemistry with the audience.

And without making his (fairly) willing accomplices feel embarrassed, he gets the best out of them and has the rest of the audience rocking with laughter.

But he’s also brilliant at the serious magic stuff too – leaving everyone gasping ‘How did he do that?!!!’

No Babbacombe show is complete without the stunning dancers Danze Fantazy (this review is playing havoc with my spell checker!).  They were simply superb.  On stage for much of the show, backing the singers as well as performing their own routines, they never faltered or once let the quality drop.  They made Pan’s People look positively pedestrian.

And finally comes the little bit(s) of stardust that makes Babbacombe’s feelgood factor unique.  They come in little packages from the local dance schools, and they’re called Kidz & Co (spellcheck!)

They are the cheekiest, cuddliest, cutest, coolest bunch of diddy dudes you could ever imagine and their take on the musical Matilda was stupefying.  And when they closed the first act wearing Freddie Mercury moustaches, it brought tears to my eyes.

A mention for the stunning costumes (Sharon Waring and Gill Shortland), the slick and much-improved lighting (Hayleigh Kemp), fabulous choreography (Lucy O’Neill), improved sound (Ryan Thorne) and faultless musical direction (Pete Leonard).

But a final hurrah is saved for producer-director-owner Colin Matthews who actually thanks the audience in his programme notes for keeping live theatre thriving.  It is he we should be thanking for without his hard work, creativity, and vision, we would be paying four times the price for tickets – plus the train fare to the West End!


"An expert in terms of knowing its audience".Review for the Torbay Weekender by Dawn Gillingwater

There’s no doubt about it Babbacombe Theatre does variety well. It is an expert in terms of knowing its audience and the content they enjoy, that combined with the sense of warmth you receive soon as you enter the venue, it means theatre goers come back time after time.

Babbacombe Theatre has been running summer shows for almost 40 years… And here’s to the next 40 as it has definitely found a winning formula!

Its latest offering Fantazy is a fabulous, funny, flamboyant show packed full of performers that command the stage.

Holly Cosgrove is a force vocally. Her deep, soaring vocals are powerful and pitch perfect.

She really got to shine during a segment remembering late singers, where she paid homage to Amy Winehouse.

Her voice is such a good fit for this, and it was great to get a peek of what she does outside Babbacombe Theatre, as she performs in Absolute Amy, which celebrates the music of the fallen star.

Leading lady Lorna Amy Sullivan could also hold her own, with strong vocals and stage presence. Her energy levels didn’t falter, and she certainly adds some sparkle.

Vocalist Gaz Hocking, who is a new performer at Babbacombe Theatre, fitted the cast dynamic well.

He certainly did Gary Barlow’s ‘Incredible’ and Frankie Laine’s ‘I Believe’ justice.

He’s honed his craft playing cruise ships around the world and we got to see a very polished performance from the singer.

Illusions courtesy of Matt Grindley was also on point. The invisible card trick, with a willing audience member, left the audience in awe and his comic manner also had the crowd roaring with laughter.

Kids & co, a band of young theatre stars, also had their five minutes in the limelight and got the biggest applause of the night.

Their rendition of ‘Naughty’ from the hit film and musical Matilda was an absolute delight.

The young, cute cast lived every moment on that stage. I can’t wait to see where their theatre careers all go, as they are talented bunch.

Dance Fantazy also deserve recognition. With choreography courtesy of Lucy O’Neill they were in sync throughout and they certainly add value to the whole show.

Last, but by no means least, host Steve Laister is a class act. His comedy is clever, with play on words and innuendos galore, he had the theatre goers laughing well after the last number and on their way to their carriages!

His impersonation of Dame Edna got the biggest cheer, closely followed by his tongue in cheek sketch about marriage guidance. His voice also packed punch.

The costumes were dazzling, modern and were the best I’ve seen at the theatre. They had the wow factor; they looked top spec and were perfectly picked to compliment each sketch/song.

Highlights include the Michael Jackson section and the duet I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) by Aretha Franklin and George Michael, which was performed by Holly and Gaz.

The medley of songs paying tribute to great artists that had passed on was also exceptional. The young performers who all came dressed as Mini Freddy Mercury’s was genius.

Catch Fantazy while you can. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Review by Richard Killick – Riviera FM Breakfast show presenter

Fantazy, the Babbacombe Theatre’s all new show for this 2024 season - is ‘Absolutely Brilliant’.

The comedy timing from Steve Laister was spot on, with the singing and dancing by the talented vocalist, Lorna Amy Sullivan and Holly Cosgrove being sensational. Gaz Hocking with his amazing voice and great showmanship just added to the overall musical experience this show delivers!

As for the magic of Matt Grindley, ‘totally awesome in every way possible’ and with Kidz & Co being superb and Danze Fantazy being so well coordinated, you can count on this show delivering entertainment throughout the 2 plus hour production.

Tune into Riviera FM 107.9 with this link


The first reviews from February 2024! ***** After opening night (Tues 20th Feb).

As posted to our TripAdvisor page.  Rosemary W ***** Toe Tapping Evening. "WOW, an excellent toe tapping evening, full of sparkle, brilliant dynamics on stage, with awesome vocals and dancing. For an opening night, STUNNING, well-done cast, and crew!"

Deborah D ***** Funny, fabulous must see variety show - “Opening night of FANTAZY. Absolutely first-class entertainment. The highlight of our minibreak in Torquay. A showcase of local talent the dancers were excellent. The professional singers/comic/magic acts were fabulous. If you're local or on holiday, make time to see this show you will love it” 😍

These followed after the performance on Weds 21st Feb...

John K - ***** A Great Night of Variety Entertainment 🤩🤩 "Had an excellent time at the theatre tonight, 2nd night of their show which I understand runs for 9 months of the year". What a treat, 😊 thank goodness these wonderful people still exist giving us a great night of variety entertainment ,singers, comics, magic and wonderful dancers it was super and a great addition to our holiday🥰🥰Totally recommend this for all . 5 stars +"

Sharo R ***** Fantazy at the Babbacombe Theatre "Been to watch Fantazy with Gee Vee travel from Barnsley with transport from K&M. And can honestly say was feeling a little pessimistic about a small theatre with unnamed title but as we are regulars theatre goer I can honestly say that the presentation and the production of this show was second to none, all the vocalists were outstanding, comedy and magic were hilarious. A go see show even children will enjoy".

Lynne T ***** Excellent Show "Excellent evening’s entertainment. Brilliantly talented performance's all round. I can definitely recommend this show".

...... And this was sent directly to our Facebook Messenger from Jean H. "Absolutely Brilliant show tonight. The format was spot on. Loved every minute. My friend said it was better than last year. I just loved it."

Shared as a post on our Facebook page by Vomero Holiday Apartments
✨ A fabulous night of entertainment, thank you all for a great time! Another amazing show, good luck for the rest of the season. 🤩 

This one too shared by,.... Alex B- "FANTAZY another fabulous summer show started it's 8 months run this week. The kids were amazing congratulations to them. Then there were dancer’s singers and a magician all absolutely brilliant. Compered by the very funny comedian and singer Steve Laister. A top-quality show not to be missed and value for every penny!”

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