As north Derbyshire basked in the warmth of a rare sunny Bank Holiday Monday, young performers were shining on stage in the finale of Chesterfield’s first Community Arts Festival.
The five-day celebration of the talent on offer in the borough played out with a performance arts showcase at the Pomegranate Theatre.
Students from Directions Theatre Arts, Class Act, Springwell Community Arts (SCART) and the Pomegranate Youth Theatre lit up the stage with song, dance, drama and comedy.
Introduced as an international cabaret team, the nine representatives of Directions shared top-class entertainment with the audience, including two award-winning routines. The song and dance to Did You Evah beat 20,000 competitors in a national contest last year and Ruby Payne, James Morgan and Dominic Stevenson gave a dazzling display of the prize-winning entry. Good though it was, my favourite of the whole afternoon was Dominic and James’ take-off of the Morecambe and Wise song and dance Bring Me Sunshine which earned them best duet at a Junior Showtime competition in Mansfield.
A cracking duet of I Know Him So Well by Emma Southworth and Lois Woodward were among the highlights of a great variety show by Directions. Sixties songs and dances, musical numbers from The Jersey Boys and Avenue Q, the latter with puppets, were fine examples of the talent coming out of the performance arts training base on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield.
Class Act are a group that I hadn’t seen until this afternoon - but they are well worth catching. Based at Chesterfield Studios, on Rose Hill, the group caters for 11-16-year-olds and uses acting and teamwork to build confidence.
Their production at the festival was entitled Thriller and it lived up to its name. Using the Michael Jackson soundtrack as its opening, this offering lulled us into thinking that the group was going to mimic the zombie video which Jacko created all those years ago. But in reality it was a group of tourists on their way to a haunted house, populated by a family of ghosts, witches and vampires, including a comic called Kevin and a forgetful grandma. A tour of the haunted Dartmoor Manor included performers contorting themselves into some of the fixtures and fittings, such as a bath, a dripping tap and a bed in a spook-tacular piece of theatre.
A ghost also haunted Springwell Community Arts’ performance as the group gave a taster of its upcoming show Phantom Quidnunc which is halfway through rehearsal.
Beatrice Bunting gave a stunning solo, The Best Days of My Life, which was the high spot of Springwell’s show.
Female duo Serendipity, whose name mirrored their song choice, had well-matched voices and their contribution was among the highlights of their team’s selection of musical numbers.
Springwell’s finale was the song Open, with which they launched their spot, and augured well for the production of Phantom Quidnunc.
It’s been a busy time for the Pomegranate Youth Theatre, whose members performed in The Candy Girls on Saturday and Sunday. A few of them were back on stage this afternoon to launch the drama mini-festival in which they did comedy impro sketches based on shout-outs from the audience.
They did a marvellous job thinking on their feet as they interpreted James Bond called to solve a toilet problem at Tesco’s in Chesterfield, performing Romeo and Juliet and the Three Little Pigs in different genres including rap, Western and silent movie and playing famous dinner guests such as Katie Price, Russell Brand and Louie Spencer.
The festival proved that the future of community arts in Chesterfield is in safe hands.