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Kennet School, Stoney Lane, Thatcham, RG19 4LL.

Box Office

This is part of Thatcham Festival. Free tickets are available from Picture It, High Street, Thatcham.

Review of West End Showstoppers

16th to 18th February 2017.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

That's entertainment

West End comes to West Berkshire in glittering night of song and dance

KATS: West End Showstoppers, at Kennet School, Thatcham, from Thursday, February 16, to Saturday, February 18

The one thing you can expect from a KATS performance is the highest production values in every respect – and their latest format was no exception, with fabulous lighting and costumes and a really well-rehearsed show.

The opening, The Circle of Life (The Lion King) was beautiful to look at and delightfully sung. We were then treated to a succession of solos, duets, sketches and big chorus numbers, in many different and ambitious styles.

I applaud director John Hicks for choosing material that, on the whole, avoided the clichéed format that this type of 'songs from the shows' production often includes. However, I did feel that too many of the numbers, while all excellently performed, were not well-known crowd-pleasers.

Exceptions to this were the brilliant The Cat and the Moon (The Lord of the Rings – (The Musical)); A Musical – Something Rotten!; How I Got the Calling (Sister Act) and Telly (Matilda), which all had instant audience appeal despite not being so well-known.

Other memorable moments were the mesmerically-staged Cup Song (Pitch Perfect), The Rocky Horror sequence including The Time Warp and the stunning We Will Rock You mash-up finale – which was amazing and sent the audience home on a real high.

It is always difficult to integrate sketches in this type of show and their success was variable. John Hicks had penned a couple, and The Thirty Nine Steps was well-devised, amusing and the final glitzy finish a delight.

Claire Bowden's superb choreography throughout gave an outstanding polish to the show and the chorus gave of their very best, with some dazzling set pieces – a group of accomplished dancers often enhancing the action. The simple but effective ramped setting was attractive and Carl Dibble's lighting was stunning – I loved the multi-coloured twinkling star cloth.

All praise to everyone for a breath-taking amount of costume/hairstyle changes into a myriad of different styles. None of this hampered the slickness of an excellent entertainment, stylishly brought together by John Hicks.


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