A Night To Remember Review at Customs House
A Night to Remember – Customs House, South Shields , 24th August 2023
If you are as old as I am, you may recall there was a film called A Night to Remember back in 1958. The film told the tale of the ill-fated maiden voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ RMS Titanic on its journey from Southampton to New York. There were no concerns of such a disaster this evening where the only journey the almost sell out crowd at South Shields was through a magical mix of classic and modern musicals performed by a plethora of performers in a production which dazzled and delighted from start to finish.
The entire company opened with a comedy song about putting on a musical from the lesser-known production of Something Rotten headed by director and performer Davey Hopper in what will be his last performance at Customs House before he travels off to play the iconic role of Pumbaa for Disney in Paris. We all wish him a very safe journey and all the best for his new adventure and there was a lovely re-worded Disney song performed by Hopper and Ray Spencer to send him on wings of song, as it were, to pastures new.
Spencer acted for the most part as host for the evening and was most affable as the self-effacing comic foil for the acts he introduced. The company is made up of Beth Ellis (nee Clarke) Lucy Davis, Glen Richard Townsend, Zac Hamilton, Steven Lee, and Jen Stevens who doubles as a performer and musical director.
The stage is set very minimally with only a stand at stage right to indicate the musical being performed at any given time and a glorious grand piano that Stevens plays beautifully where required accompanying herself and others during a very varied programme. The magic comes from the excellent lighting plot designed by Johnn Rainsforth. There is an elegance in the simplicity of this production which really highlights the talent on the stage without over complicating the senses. There were a few missed lighting and vocal cues this evening but these will be quickly ironed out as the run continues through until Sunday.
In addition to the main cast there were special guests too including former child actor at Customs House Alice Stokoe fresh from her starring role in Mamma Mia on the West End and the kids from Stage Coach South Tyneside who performed songs from Les Misérables, School of Rock and Heathers – The Musical and had the audience whooping in delight at their talent which belies their tender years.
I do not want to talk too much about all the individual musicals in the production because there is a joy to be had anticipating what is going to come next but I will say that when you get a combination of some or all the boys together, it is something very special indeed and certainly had the back of my neck standing up during a particularly memorable mash up of songs from two of the more modern musicals in the very varied programme. I normally pick out a performance I particularly like but I am struggling to single out anyone from this star-studded group. If my arm is twisted then Zac Hamilton’s vocals were outstanding this evening from the laudable lads and Jen Stevens range and power is quite something to behold from the lovely lasses.
On a night such as this you need some gorgeous dancers gliding effortlessly across the stage with glamorous costumes and A Night to Remember does not disappoint on this requirement either. In fact, the dancers, Sarah Whitehead, Lucy Dean, Sharlize Sowden, and Laura Holdsworth not only dance but sing their way through the entire performance. I am fairly sure that Shalize knows the lyrics to all of the songs because she was singing or at least mouthing the words to everything and was clearly living her best life on that stage this evening as were all the girls. All of the choreography from Whitehead and Dean was superb and the scene changes executed with great skill.
The guests change depending on which performance you go to but I am sure that they will be as impressive as Ms Stokoeand Stagecoach South Tyneside were this evening.
If you have any cares or troubles in your life, then get down to The Customs House in South Shields for performances from everyone that will not only melt them away but have you clapping, stamping your feet, and singing your way out of the theatre after what is, without doubt, A Night to Remember.
A Night to Remember plays at Customs House, South Shields until Sunday 27th August and tickets are available from the box office or online now.
Photos: Chris Allan