Spa Theatre, Scarborough ****
It’s nearly 10 years ago since Tony Peers revitalised and rebranded the faded, jaded, past-its-sell-by-date seaside variety show, turning it into a sophisticated, glittering musical extravaganza.
Now the intrepid entertainment entrepreneur has taken another bold step by giving comedian Billy Pearce 95 per cent of the action for three out of the six nights of his weekly shows at The Spa.
Having only seen Pearce in his pantomime mantle, I was sceptical it would work, but it does beautifully. It’s not just another wedge of stand-up peppered with song and dance but a seamless, pacey and skilfully put together offering into which Pearce integrates magnificently.
From the moment he walks on stage he develops an instant warm relationship with his audience and warns “If you don’t laugh I’ll stop on”. There are jokes, magic tricks and audience participation – all guaranteed to appeal to a family audience.
But the thing that sets this show apart is the way the versatile Pearce blends in the musical sequences with the cast of four talented singers in high energy song and dance routines ranging from a 50s medley, with acappella singing, to a sizzling tap routine. With glittering costumes and sets and musical numbers of a West End standard this is a new spin on seaside comedy which looks set for success and along with Peers other show The Best of Thoroughly Modern Musicals (Thursday-Saturday) the Spa looks set for another record-breaking season.
• Both to September 28.