This year the Angus Minstrels have pulled out all the stops and put on an absolute barn-stormer of a show at the Webster Memorial Theatre.
We are well used to being wowed by the Minstrels but this year was something quite special, and we have received reports from plenty of other sources also heaping praise on the performers.
Every year the producers take the tried and tested format of cabaret, dance, comedy, choral music and assorted showstoppers and put together a slick, fun, and fantastic charity concert that showcases the talent in our area.
This year has been no exception and the diverse mix of musical styles, dancing, and splendid costumes and sets does not disappoint.
Confidently opening proceedings the company launched the 2014 show in a ‘Celtic Mood’ and a resounding rendition of Donnie McLean’s ‘Caledonia’.
It gave great scope for powerful solos from Claire Rioch (‘Touch The Sky’ from ‘Brave’), John Hayes (‘Loch Lomond’), Jennifer Moore (‘Will Ye No Come Back Again’), piper Lewis Smith (‘Highland Cathedral’) and a beautiful duet from Heidi Cathro and Kevin Polson (‘Mist Covered Mountains’).
The dancers swept in resplendent in full Celtic ensemble with precise and polished Irish dancing and Remy Beattie’s solo dance during ‘Fields Of Gold’ was most graceful.
Maggie Findlay rounded off the segment with a pure-voiced ‘Women of Ireland’.
Malcolm Watson, Jamie Watson and John Hayes were on form as the terrible trio of Mexican mugs the ‘Three Cabelleros’ who instantly lightened the mood.
It set the scene for more Latin tunes in the segment ‘Fiesta Espagnol’ a sultry study of popular ‘Spanish’ tunes wonderfully accentuated by some fantastic costumes and dynamic dancing.
In apt form the soloists swaggered about magnificently with Brian Boardman (‘Y Viva Espagna’), Jonathan Milne (‘Grenada’), Maggie Findlay (‘Habanera’) and a duet from Jill Bridges and Kirsten Hammond (‘Fernando’).
Jim Ramsay brought home the laughs with his skit ‘The Royal Toy Shop’ in which his broad Doric accent provided light relief and much confusion for the Duchess of Cambridge as the Ballater Toy Shop called to enquire what Prince George would like for Christmas.
Garry Mitchell’s smooth vocals on ‘Stuck on You’ set off perfectly the bright colours of the dancers as they flowed around the stage.
Something a little different and an inspired choice for the Minstrels was Chloe Leuchars and her ‘hooping’ routine. Her effortless agility and ingenuity generated spontaneous applause from the enraptured audience.
Setting the scene for the first half finale Evelyn Fordyce sang a heart-breaking ‘Roses of Picardy’.
The Minstrel’s tribute to the centenary of the Great War captured the initial enthusiasm and jingoism of 1914 Britain and combined it with the tragic realisation of the nature of modern war.
Emotive solos were courtesy of Jamie Watson (‘Pack Up Your Troubles’), Vicky Milne (‘I’ll Make A Man Of You’), Shaun McQuade (‘Somewhere in France Dear Mother’), James Hutcheson (‘The End Of The Road’), a duet from Kirsten Hammond and Jonathan Milne (‘They Didn’t Believe Me’) and a tear-jerking ‘Last Post’ played by bugler John Hirst.
An Eagles medley tribute got the ball rocking and rolling in the second half, thanks to the singing and strumming talents of Stuart Malcolm, Kevin Polson and Josh Wright.
Other Eagles favourites were provided courtesy of soloists Heidi Cathro (‘Take It To The Limit’), Colette Dear (‘Desperado’), John Hayes (‘Already Gone’) and a duet from Louise Murray and Josh Wright (‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’).
James Hutcheson and Garry Mitchell brought out the crooning stools and donned their tuxedos for a beautifully melancholic cautionary tale of wasted youth with ‘Yesterday’.
Soloist Eileen Christison then delivered a soaring, and frankly much more melodic, version of The Corr’s ‘Runaway’.
Family favourite, the medley of show tunes followed with the company romping through some classic stage numbers. Garry Mitchell opened with ‘No Business Like Show Business’ and Kym Cargill (‘Whistle Down The Wind’) provided the other main solo. The chorus accompanied perfectly numbers for Malcolm Watson (‘If I Were Rich Man’), James Hutcheson (‘Vault Of Heaven’), Chloe Leuchars (‘My Name Is Tallulah’), Brian Boardman and his dancers (‘Fat Sam’s Grand Slam’), Colette Dear (‘Dancing Queen’) and a duet from Maggie Findlay and Eileen Craig.
Eileen Christison’s mesmerising performance of ‘Defying Gravity’ from ‘Wicked’, along with the inventive stage mechanics and lighting which had her appear to actually defy gravity was a real high point.
There followed a change of pace and style thanks to Fiona Gibb, Heidi Cathro, Jennifer Moore, Jill Bridges and Kirsten Hammond, aka ‘The Ladies Gaga’ who made the medley their own.
With plenty of energy and more than a little dash of murky danger the dancers’ ‘Capone’ routine rounded off an excellent second half in time for the traditional finale.
The big finish was everything it should be, glam, glitz and pizazz, and plenty of Dixieland favourites that have become the hallmark and speciality of the Angus Minstrels and Garry Mitchell topped it off with a passionate and striking performance of the ‘Battle Hymn of The Republic’.