Ann Smith/Anne Paskins
Are you joking?!
HCP are celebrating their 40th anniversary with this evening of music, dance and comedy, and I doubt that this particular ruby's brilliance and polish could be eclipsed by any other gem.
On the occasions when I heap praise on a show I always wonder if there was something that I missed, some little detail that I overlooked that may have made it something less than the perfection I thought I saw – but no. HCP is one of those companies that leaves nothing to chance, so props, costumes, sound and lighting are spot-on and the performances are first-rate.
Where shall I start? Well, at the beginning I guess, with the incomparable David Gillard introducing each section in his own unique and highly professional style. The company always does well with sketches, of which there were many during the course of the evening - far too many to mention in much detail, but all very funny. My own personal favourites were the Two Ronnies' Mastermind sketch from Stephen Hutt and Jonathan Hall, and Tracey Challen and Louise King's hilarious The Staff Room, in which both sang along, with varying degrees of success, to a radio.
The dance part of the evening came, by and large, with the musical numbers – Young Frankenstein, Shrek, Copacabana, Chess, Glee and Mamma Mia - and they were all simply fantastic. And such was the attention to detail that we even had Napoleon watching over along to Waterloo.
I also adored the Cheap Flights number, made famous by Fascinating Aida and sung here by Louise King, Georgina Smith and Tracey Challen, with a little drum-bearing Irish leprechaun cunningly disguised as Stephen Hutt. Polly Morris' My Phone was a hoot too, as was Kate Claxton's Fitness Video. And I'm trying to find words to describe the Fan Dance performed by Stuart Tizzard, Paul Barrington and Dave Coward, but I think I should leave it to your imaginations rather than give the wrong impression by talking about naked bodies, slipping fans or anything else of that nature.
The show runs until Saturday at St Marks, where it also includes a cold supper, but tickets are sold out. You may possibly manage to get returns, but if not there is a final performance at the Regent Centre, Christchurch, on Sunday. In the meantime, I hope director Pete Whitaker, choreographer Cara Bowen and musical director Ian Carter have awarded themselves the gold stars they so richly deserve.
Bournemouth Daily Echo