The verdict on Thursford Christmas Spectacular
PUBLISHED: 13:13 10 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:28 10 November 2019
If there's anything to get you in the festive spirit, this is it.
This was my first visit to the Thursford Christmas Spectacular and I have to say I was floored. More than 130 dancers, singers and musicians are part of the show, and sometimes it seems they're all performing at once on stage and in the aisles.
Many pieces are Christmas-based, but Thursford's scope goes far beyond December the 25th.
There's everything from a Nutcracker-inspired Parade of Wooden Soldiers to a Riverdance routine that sees the Thursford dancers tap up a storm.
Other performances feature a hoedown, a troupe of Charlie Chaplains and a masquerade that feels like something out of Renaissance Venice.
Ventriloquist Steve Hewlett earned plenty of laughs with his puppet sidekick Arthur Lager.
He also brought an unsuspecting member of the audience up on stage - a manager of a cable warehouse from Brighton.
Mr Hewlett popped a mask with a button-operated mouth over his face - turning him into a human ventriloquist's puppet. But the manager took it all in his stride, miming along with no control over what 'he' was saying and providing a hilarious highlight of the night.
Other specialty acts included Billy George, who spins around like a cartoon Tasmanian devil inside a Cyr wheel, and Cirque du Soleil roller skaters Royer and Emelie.
All three brilliantly pushed the bounds of balance and agility and the audience oohed and aahed to their death-defying routines.
The standout musician was Phil Kelsall, a Thursford star for 39 years. He threw himself so heartedly into a solo on the Wurlizer organ you'd think an entire orchestra was playing.
The show runs for three hours, including a 25-minute intermission that gives you time to grab a mulled wine and explore the Christmas shops outside. That said, when you're in the hall the time flies by as there's always something to look at and each act melds seamlessly into the next.
I'd heard plenty about the Thursford show before but it's hard to imagine what a spectacle it really is until you're there.
Although it's been running since 1977 this is one Norfolk tradition that must be improving with age.
The show runs until December 23, with performances 2pm and 7pm. For more information, call 01328 878477 or visit thursford.com.