President: Peter Mitton
Club of Royston
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A group of 28, comprising Rotarians, partners and friends arrived promptly for the Richmond’s coach to whisk us away to the Thursford Christmas Spectacular. Before that event though, the driver stopped the coach (next to a sign that said strictly no parking so that we could observe two minutes silence promptly at 11am, it being Remembrance Sunday. Shortly after that we arrived at Fakenham Race Course for an early lunch. Meals had been pre-chosen and, efficiently, Richmonds had printed menu choices on the envelopes containing the attendees’ tickets for the Spectacular, so there was none of the usual chaos of people accidentally stealing others’ choices. We were in the grandstand overlooking the race course but no horses were to be seen. All agreed that the food was very good, but a slight delay in serving desserts meant that when we arrived at Thursford we had to go directly to our seats. It is called a spectacular for good reasons, the decorations around the concert hall, featuring many lights, were well, spectacular. We were welcomed by the (marmite) sound of bagpipes, for which I happen to be very much in the pro camp. Soon after this we were being treated to a 50+ choir which was, well spectacular (OK, I’ll try not to use that word again, but that might prove tricky). Acts came thick and fast with more singing and a large group of dancers treating us to a variety of routines. This included a Tiller dance (most of us were easily old enough to remember this) with the scantily clad beautiful lady dancers. The singers frequently came along the aisles amongst the audience so that you could hear their live voices as well as those amplified to the sound system. Immediately after the interval the choir sang some spine tingling songs such as O Holy Night and Nella Fantasia that were truly specta…, sorry, truly wonderful. A comedian, Kev Orkian, who hailed from Armenia, was hilarious and also provided a link between acts. There were many other acts rather than singing and dancing though:- We had Silvia Pavone in a skin tight leotard doing amazing tricks with hula hoops, some mind blowing such as when she had four hoops circling tightly together around her waist and then magically having them rise at different rates up her body so that they ended up circling separately. The fine muscle control to do that must be amazing. This was especially so as, unlike my attempts in the distant past which had my body making huge gyrations in a vain attempt to keep the hoop up, Silvia’s body only appeared to make minute movements. The Thursford orchestra playing a wide selection of pieces including the haunting orchestral piece Srach Zarathustra (the introduction to the film 2001 Space Odyssey) and other tunes, holding us so spellbound that it was easy to miss the spotlights being brought up on a topless muscular young man (thereby slightly evening things up for the ladies) who proceeded to perform miracles with Cyr Wheels, which are like giant hula hoops, by rotating them not only around his body but also with him inside them. Back to the dancing girls performing a Can Can. My neighbour informed me that the original Can Can girls wore no underwear but I can assure my readers that that was most certainly not the case on this occasion. Once more redressing the balance another topless muscular young man subsequently appeared and proceeded to do incredible hand stands and acts of balance, not to mention the strength required, on two extremely small platforms, hardy bigger than his hands. To end his act, four blocks were placed on top on each platform and more clever balance ensued before he drew breaths of shock as, accompanied by an explosion and burst of fire (and gasps from the audience), he swept the blocks away but landed safely on the original platforms, spect-- err, brilliant. A further individual performer, Kelly Huesca, bounced and juggled balls in a mesmerising display, although I did think what’s the big deal as Novak Djokovic does that before each service (although far, far less entertaining). At another point we were treated to an expert solo guitarist superbly playing. It is impossible to mention all the wonderful acts but I did overhear many people saying how good the Lord Of Dance / River Dance was and I totally concurred, and I’ll allow myself a final ‘it was spectacular’. I can’t ignore Kev Orkian the comedian and compere who also turned out to be a very accomplished pianist, playing Happy Birthday in the style of different composers - very, very clever; and then an hilarious sketch where he accompanied a singer and, in retaliation for her admonishing him not to hum the tune alongside her, berated her every time she leant on his piano. I can assure you that it was funnier than it sounds! To get a flavour of the show have a look at the video below. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and so we had to make our way back to the coach where the driver lived up to the smooth driving standards always exhibited by Richmond’s drivers. Words by Ray Munden and special thanks must go to him for a very enjoyable trip, smoothly executed. Pictures by Ray, Bryony, Kasifa and by courtesy of the Thursford Publicity Department. Click on any image to enlarge it. To see the complete photo album of the visit Click Here

Visit to the Thursford Spectacular

Sunday 13th November