by Tony Flood

The Rattonians make a jubilant return to The Royal Hippodrome Theatre with A Christmas Spectacular featuring songs from musicals in the first half, followed by festive favourites after the break.
Star Bray takes the limelight with her cheeky rendition of If They Could See Me Now, and provides an excellent touch of comedy with Thomas Hackett who plays a shy guy plucking up the courage to take her to church where Leigh Baker leads the company in a rousing Rhythm of Life, also from Sweet Charity.
More comic moments would have been welcome, and I was surprised that the show did not open with a joyful number instead of Come From Away’s Welcome To The Rock, based on real events from the town of Gander, Newfoundland, following the September 11 attacks.
But there are many uplifting song and dance routines to get the audience in a merry mood. These mainly feature Star Bray, Paula Prout, Eliza Hackett, Laura May Sivers, Alex Adams and Thomas Hackett.
Georgie Norman provides a spell-binding version of Hopelessly Devoted To You, and Darcie Bennett teams up with Laura May Sivers in a delightful double act, singing I Can’t Do It Alone from Chicago.
Caleb Pout and Ashton Storey then join Alex Adams and Thomas Hackett in a foot-tapping rendition of Beggin’ from Jersey Boys.
There are other outstanding performances from the versatile Nathan Morris, Wendy Dovey, Ella Andrews and Tyler Morris.
Alex Adams starts the second half in style with It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas and later duets with his father Mark in treating us to Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.
Melanie Adams, who produces the show together with Mark, Alex and Debbie Adams, joins the company, together with Santa, for a Christmas medley in a fitting finale.
Excellent choreography by Debbie Adams, Jan Lynton, Karen Gurr and Star Bray adds greatly to an entertaining evening.