Dawson's Academy is a Bolton institution, and, like the title suggests, has been operating for the past 30 years. It's a very large academy, with well over 100 children age 3 and upward training in one or more of the disciplines offered.
The show started with a short video montage of the school's highlights over the years with pictures of those who have gone on into the profession.
The show then opened with an excerpt from Lord Of The Dance, and having only watched his latest offering 'Dangerous Games' at The Palace Theatre last night, this was very interesting to see. I appreciated the 'trademark' single line with split-second timing, and this proved to be an excellent opening sequence with good choreography and dancing. Here, the wee piper actually looked like she was playing the instrument moving her fingers up and down in time to the music. In the Flatley version, no such attempt was made. Well done. It was such a small thing but it was noticed.
The show started at 7:15 and didn't finish until 10:30pm, and although a little on the long side the time flew by so quickly. Surely that must be a sign that it was a fantastic and highly entertaining showcase. In between the sections, a young man Joni Pill compered, and his energy and enthusiasm was infectious. A very personable MC, and had just the right amount of patter.
In the first half of the evening we were treated to selections from The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Matilda, The Great Gatsby, Paul McCartney's 'We All Stand Together', Michael Jackson's Thriller, Ghostbusters, and to finish, something which was entirely new to me; two numbers from the latest Broadway Musical, Welcome To Wonderland. I adored the costumes and the choreography in these numbers too!
The second act kicked off with Queen. Some lovely harmony singing for Bohemian Rhapsody, and some great choreography for It's A Kind Of Magic and Don't Stop Me Now; through Toy Story, Evil Like Me (a song from a pantomime the students were involved in over Christmas at Bolton football stadium.), The Magic Toys Room, Unchained Melody (Ghost version), Hairspray, and finishing with Dirty Dancing.
With so many items on offer, it is difficult to highlight my favourites. From the absolute 'cuteness factor' of The Frogs Chorus to the excellent choreography of Time Of My Life (with an almost perfectly executed lift!) (Michael Thornton and Victoria Rowe), but here are one or two which deserve a special mention.
In the first half, 'Naughty' sung by the talented Caitlin Palmer and The Gatsby Party Time were highlights; whilst the second half gave way to the fun Toy Story sequence, featuring Ben Cowling (Woody), Theo Callen-Cox (Ken) and Peaches Kilasi (Barbie), and the lifts and balancing in the older sections.
However, my favourite piece from the whole show was undeniably Madeleine Erzan's interpretation of the Celine Dion classic 'River Deep'. Not only was her voice right for this powerful song, but the combination of lovely costume, perfect lighting and dry ice made this number simply stand out as looking the most professionally produced.
Unfortunately I don't like the use of pre-recorded backing tracks with voices on, and seeing students mime to these voices is more than off-putting; however, I did hear much more singing from the students this year, and that was thoroughly enjoyable. Although some had body-packs, some had hand-helds and some had nothing at all which was a little odd and caused a few technical problems with levels and feedback.
I loved the smoke highlighting the LX beams, and with the introduction of other effects such as dry ice, wind flames and pyrotechnics, gave the show a much deeper dynamic and made each section stand out.
A massive congratulations to all! An excellent showcase.
Reviewer: Mark Dee
Reviewed: 12th April 2017