Christmas Spectacular 2018

I don’t know how long it takes for a tradition to become established, but seven years is a pretty good guess and certainly the Christmas Spectacular, now in its seventh year as a joint production between the Regent Centre and the Glad Rag Production Company, has become an indispensable feature of Christmas in Christchurch. ‘Spectacular’ is definitely the right word, with lighting, costumes and choreography building up a sumptuous visual feast.

There is a sort of story: Santa Claus has to go from his toy factory at the North Pole to help the Easter Bunny, whose factory has been sabotaged by Jack Frost. He leaves the factory in the care of his daughter, Joy, who is being wooed by Squash, an endearing Buttons/Simple Simon character. Joy’s co-elves are less than co-operative, and downright obstructive is Alabaster, a long-serving elf who is not all he seems…

But the story is really only an excuse for Christmas songs – most of the favourites are here – and for some terrific dancing. Carly Simmering, the choreographer, is the heroine of the hour, her dancers ranging from some delightful and very well-rehearsed children to make the mums go ‘Aaaah’ to some decidedly glamorous hoofers to make the dads go ‘Wow’. The one tap number was enough to make us want more.

The singing is of a high standard: Bella Kane as Joy knows how to belt out a number, while Mark Everitt (Alabaster) has a particularly strong and pleasing voice. There is some nice harmony singing, especially in ‘Snow’. The children sing well, too, enjoying their big moment in ‘Dominick the donkey’.

The Glad Rag Production Company was co-founded by Susan Simmerling, who has run a professional theatrical costumiers for the last 30 years ago. No surprise, then, that the costumes are maybe what linger most in the memory. They are not just colourful and theatrical but elegant as well.

This is a real ‘feel-good’ evening, a lovely way to start working up towards Christmas and, on the evening we went, a way of helping to banish the filthy weather of a dark December night. It is at the Regent Centre on 21 December at 7 pm and on 22-24 December at 2 pm and 7 pm.