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Review of 'Variety Show 2000'
presented by
Bottisham Players, May 18-20th, 2000

The lure of doing a 'Millennium show' proved irresistible to Bottisham. Given their ability to put 50 or so people on to their large Village College Main Hall stage and back this up with hundreds of period costumes and a big production team, this was a happy choice and much enjoyed by large audiences. It was good to see not only song, but energetic dance, and even circus oriented acrobatics in big production numbers, with a good pit band (capably led by Mark Aldous) and a cast of varied ages and experience giving their wholehearted best in a variety of separate scenes.

Director Rosemary Jolley opted to cover the first 1900 of the years A. D. before the interval and leave the second half for the events of the last century. Slide sequences on a screen mounted at the side of the proscenium arch combined with a pair of narrators, and verses specially written for the occasion, to provide the outline history of 2000 years local, national and international, and link the scenes. Songs from Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, presented with style by a large chorus, made an appropriate opening to mark the origins of the Millennium. Derek Woodhead's droll Roman centurion provided unexpected enlightenment about the origins of the name 'Bottisham' and then via Camelot and a classic Battle of Hastings monologue we leapt to Tudor dance and Shakespeare. Extracts from shows as diverse as Les Miserable, Oliver and Alice in Wonderland led to a silent-film strobe-lit melodrama (with a stroppy projectionist running it forward, backward and fast-forward) and an inevitable Victorian music-hall sequence.

In the second-half the quality of the comedy from past radio shows such as Take it from Here and Round the Home sparkled afresh. There was a strong emphasis on dance - Fleur and Phil Routley's expert Lindy Hop being a high spot. Tap routines from the Big Band era were followed by a rock and roll sequence (in which the elaborate Teddy Boy wigs brought the house down) and a suitably enjoyable high-school-frenzy (which included a number of honorary teenagers) in Summer nights. A galaxy of well judged impressions from Max Miller to Mo-town singers, and from Joyce Grenfell to The Spice Girls added to the fun. The choice of the slow-tempo From a Distance for a final number was inspired; it provided an appropriate and. moving climax. Full credit to Bottisham for their ambition and their resourcefulness in providing such a kaleidoscope of entertainment. Shows like this not only thoroughly satisfy audiences, but provide memorable moments for many in the company, whether playing parts large or small.

Rex Walford