Razzle Dazzle/Worcester Musical Theatre Company

OH what a night… this was fabulous feast of slick routines, toe-tapping tunes and comic mayhem.

Producer Val Knight has certainly put the cast through their paces with this show, the company’s seventh outing. Ellie Bugg’s jazz club piece Fever was just one example of this award-winning outfit’s renaissance – you could almost smell the cigarette smoke and bootleg gin fumes.

A hallmark of Val Knight’s apparent new approach lies in the way the ensemble pieces are constructed. Their complexity and an already high standard of synchronisation have hit new heights, factors which are beautifully mirrored by the stunning choreography of Paula Dymock and Lianne Street of Harlequin Stage School.

It was good to see the men with big beaming smiles this time. All right, the hip action needs a little work, but as company ticket manager Gill Saunders said during the interval, “We’re working from the top down!”

Much effort was demanded from the children of Claines and Wilden CE Primary Schools, but they magnificently rose to the challenge, echoing the flawless technique of the Harlequin contingent.

Cath Skyrme’s comedy interludes neatly supplied a degree of contrast to the main act. Her timing with the Music Hall-inflected Marrow Song was spot-on, and I couldn’t help thinking that Worcester’s late great star Vesta Tilley would have been proud of her.

Compere Paul Bellamy dropped the odd clanger here and there with his gags, but this old king of comic corn always comes up with the goods, so fair play to him.

This show seems to mark a milestone in the company’s development. And although that’s mainly down to Val Knight’s subtle turns on the tiller, it’s also because of an increasingly confident band, led by Mat Dawson-Jones, which provides a really authentic musical feel to the proceedings.

Razzle Dazzle runs until Saturday (November 4) at the Swan Theatre, Worcester, and should not be missed.

John Phillpott