Reviews: Newton still amazing after all these years

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ANDREW NEWTON

Civic Theatre

IT is hard to believe, but it is now exactly 30 years since acclaimed stage hypnotist Andrew Newton first set foot on stage in Doncaster to nervously perform his newly honed mind-bending skills for the first time.

He freely admits back then that as a raw recruit to the world of hypnotism, his early shows were shaky and a far cry from his current stage act which is a lesson in how other stage hypnotists should be.

And despite the fact that he has appeared in the town countless times over the last three decades, the adulation for Andrew shows no signs of letting up just yet. For Doncaster loves Andrew Newton - and its easy to see why.

Slick, stylish and truly astounding to watch in action, it is all too apparent why he has remained at the top of his game for so long.

And his latest show was no different.

Engaging from start to finish, each routine drew riotous laughs, gasps and produced some truly breathtaking moments. But of course, the real stars of the show are the brave volunteers themselves who agree to step up on stage and put themselves in the spotlight and the capable hands of Newton.

So step forward a mixed bag of individuals, each and every one of them prepared to be made fools of for the entertainment of an energetic and lively audience.

The middle-aged mum as a wolf, young lads describing traumatic births for men on the Jeremy Kyle show and the undoubted star, an Asda worker who Newton homed in for guaranteed laughs by getting him to mince across the stage as a camp Hitler - as well as a superb routine where our hero felt he was being made to act as performing seal for the enjoyment of the man in the front row.

Andrew Newton is the world’s best - catch him when he’s next in town.

* Darren Burke

THE ARMED MAN

Priory Church

A BEAUTIFULLY varied programme of pieces was presented to us at the end of the month of Remembrance, courtesy of Doncaster Choral Society and members of The National Festival Orchestra, under the sturdy baton of Dr Simon Lindley.

Giving full voice to Priory Church’s organ, David Houlder, associate conductor of the choir, treated us to two Elgar solos, Imperial March and Nimrod, as well as providing organic accompaniment throughout the evening.

Albinoni’s haunting Adagio in G Minor (to this day, still conjuring up, in some minds, the plight of poor Ria in BBC’s Butterflies) was performed by our quintet of strings, while two bright, proclamatory trumpets, played in style by Jamie O’Brien and Gordon Truman, presented another crowd-pleaser in the form of Vivaldi’s Concerto in C.

Doncaster Choral Society, voices nicely balanced, got things off to an exhilarating start with Quilter’s Non Nobis Domine, the audience sharing the final verse, while other fine first half pieces were Elgar’s powerful song of Remembrance, With Proud Thanksgiving, which sets Laurence Binyon’s words to mighty music, and Vaughn Williams’ O, Be Joyful.

Dramatic jewel in the crown was undoubtedly Karl Jenkins’ mass for peace, The Armed Man, a work much loved by Classic FM listeners - and quite a few others!

First performed in 2000, its contrasting moods, its insistent, catchy melodies and motifs throw us into the horrors and carnage of war, move us through pain, loss and destruction, yet finally bring us, with much exuberance, to a vibrant hope for lasting peace and harmony.

Our ten orchestral players were kept more than busy!

Manning an entire battery of drums, the two percussionists went into battle, marching, charging, thudding and thundering, while the piccolo piped out its mesmerising Irish jig-style magic. At quieter moments, a real-life, brightly-clad muezzim delivered the Arabic call to prayer, while magnificent contributions came from soprano Claire Strafford, her voice upliftingly light and clear, and from the delicious, rich, roundness of Lucy Appleyard’s contralto tones, from bass and tenor, Paul Tidd and Philip Steel, and from endearing young Leeds’ chorister, Cameron Stanley.

Not unsurprisingly, the applause for the hard work and achievement of one and all was loud and long.

The choir will be recharging its batteries pretty swiftly: Handel’s Messiah will be performed by them in its entirety at 7.00pm on December 10, also at Priory Methodist Church.

* Eileen Caiger Gray