Neil Sands Christmas Memories

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5/5

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Things to do

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Date of travel

November, 2015

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This past Guy Fawkes day, I was looking for something more exhilarating than the usual and quick, ‘Whiz-Bang-Poof’ of damp Squibs and Roman Candles! So I took myself, my wife Val and good neighbours Betty & Dave to the Regis Centre, Bognor for some pre-Christmas inspiration.

We got more than we bargained for in the new review produced by Neil Sands, called ‘Christmas Memories’. This is more than a show; it is an uplifting trip down a nostalgic musical memory lane of the Christmases of our youth and yesteryear. I recommend it to all and it could be at that little, forgotten, Theatre near you as it travels the length and breadth of England for the next six weeks.

Obviously designed for Silver Travellers, as the show’s producer, director and presenter, Neil Sands is one himself at 68 years young. This lively musical presentation is a two-hour extravaganza of essentially Christmas songs from Victorian times to the present. The set is a glorious Christmas decorated room with the singers continuously performing solo, duo and trio melodies in stunning costumes.

I took myself and the three others along on 5th November to the first performance at Bognor’s Regis Centre, in Sussex. We were ‘Regally’ entertained and spellbound for the entire show. The show stars Neil himself, who is a typical ‘cheeky chappie’ originally from the East End of London, with the warm wit of a ‘Cockney Sparrow’ and a responsive repartee with the audience. Just like the wonderfully warm old Music Hall stars used to be. The show also stars Gemma Turner a truly outstanding classically trained blonde Soprano, who has performed in London’s West End, The Royal Albert Hall and prestigious venues all over the U.K. She has been described as “An English Rose with the true voice of an Angel”. These artists are assisted by Chelsea Turnbull an appealing brunette with a voice as pure as the twinkling snow that Christmas reminds us of and two experienced musicians in Jim Edmunds and Phil Segon as the ‘Golden Times’.

The show itself is a non-stop Christmas music history through the decades and suits all tastes. It includes all the best-known carols, pop songs and popular ballads. Everyone I spoke to afterwards felt that their own particular Christmas favourite had been performed marvellously. The costumes were vibrant, brilliantly being changed frequently with gusto during the performance. Lighting too was excellent with some stunning dresses worn by the ladies being highlighted to magnificent effect. The mood of the set was also adjusted perfectly according to the vocal. My only crib is that it finished far too early and we wanted more, as did most of the audience. There are many magic moments in the show and a few surprises too, but I won’t spoil them for you.

However, a punishing programme of 30 separate venues to be visited in the next six weeks in various regions of the U.K has been planned by the artists. Each show will be a single Matinee performance at local theatres in Devon, Suffolk, Buckingham, Sussex, Dorset, Essex, Sheffield, Bedfordshire, Kent, Hampshire and finishing at the Beck Theatre, Hayes on 18th December. Neil, a multi-talented performer, is no stranger to punishment, though, as he was formally a professional wrestling star in the 1970s/80s and appeared regularly on ITVs World of Sport when Kent Walton was the commentator. Opponents were Jackie Pallo, Mick McManus, Kendo Nagasaki, Big Daddy and many others who were household names back then, as a lot of us will well remember.

Neil is more like a gentle giant today, has an excellent rapport with fans and I noticed he often had a tear of emotional joy in his eye when the crowd was singing along too. I also detected that I was suffering as well, so my wife nonchalantly offered me a handkerchief to wipe the tear from my own eye. “After you”, I bravely said. Then, my neighbour, Dave added, “Ah, me too please!” Obviously all of us were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, including the artists whose warmth and passion for their performances was truly hitting the mark. It was more like an experience than a show! All these antics added to our joint enjoyment and reminiscence of the songs. The memories associated with the occasions when we had heard the melodies before came flooding back.

I agree with Neil when he said “the afternoon is a magical festival of memories dating back to our youth when Christmas really was the most wonderful time of the year” – where have I heard that song before? I can whole-heartily recommend this show which can be found easily on a secure website with venues and tickets available for each local venue. But hurry, next stop is the Central Theatre, Chatham on Monday 9th, then all points West thereafter! Happy days and keep smiling – It straightens the wrinkles out you know! Ask Santa when you next see him, he knows laughter is good for the spirit. Mike W.B.

‘Christmas Memories’ – the UK touring Musical Matinee Nostalgia Show.
“Click here to link to a Venue, Dates and Tickets for the show”:https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/neil-sands

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