The Royal Dunfermline Command Performance – 18 December – Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline

It hasn’t happened since the 60’s so what better way was there in assisting to close out the year long Celebrating Fife 2010 festival by packing the Alhambra stage with numerous performers, both professional and some very gifted amateurs too in a true homage to the contribution the Kingdom has made to the world of entertainment. From the opening fanfare delivered by Royal Marine Band Corps of Drums, through some 3 or more hours later to an all star finale, the performance directed by Susie Dumbreck was totally top draw.

All sorts of entertainment was forthcoming, following the fanfare a selection of musical numbers from Chicago! Featuring local lass come West End star Shona White set the bar way high and challenged everyone to attain the same standard.  This Kander & Ebb musical featuring numbers such as All That Jazz, All I Ever Think About is You and Mr Cellophane is a favourite of mine and the ensemble did each and every number total justice.

Our host’s for the night were another of two Fife worthies, Radio Deejay Edith Bowman and Pars legend and local hero Jim Leishman. These two supplied all the information and linked with some gag as well to keep everyone entertained while the set changes went on.

Mary Oliver, an opera star was next to hit the boards, and performed two numbers before Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was played by her pianist. All good stuff so far, and it was bound to continue.

Phantom of the Opera was featured next, when the local Dunfermline talent of Bobby Mitchell and Kim Shepherd were augmented by Edinburgh native Jeff Leyton as the Phantom. I have seen all three of the principals numerous times over the years but wow, what a combination. Kim was born to play Christine, Bobby excellent as Raoull and Leyton totally superb as the title character. Mix in an excellent backing from the orchestra under the baton of Paul Gudgin and the experience was complete.

A change of style followed, with Jimmy Shand Jnr and his band, accordion to the fore, delivering a short set of some of their finest tunes. A very popular act with the audience they were too.

Following a short interval, Dunfermline’s own Barbara Dickson and her band played a 45 minutes set comprising a selection of her own hits and show tunes she has been associated with too. Ms Dickson was totally professional throughout her set, and her voice, like fine wine, seems to get better with age. I’m sure she could have played twice as long and it would not have been enough for everyone. Let’s hope she returns before too long.

Act three saw the Royal Marine Band Corps of Drums open proceedings with a short glimpse of what they are all about. It certainly was different than the fare on offer previously, but as a popular attraction that they always are, their few minutes were very well executed and received by the packed house.

Again in complete contrast Zee D C dance crew hit the stage next. This host of dancers? gymnasts? acrobats?, in truth a combination of all three and you are getting close, took the house by storm. Their blurb says from ‘Britian’s Got Talent’ well I can tell you this young bunch certainly do. I for one could have seen a whole lot more than the few minutes they were allotted.

With time a pressing it was straight onto the ‘Les Mis’ section. Now this musical is into it’s 26th year and it’s popularity is certainly not diminishing, in fact the opposite is the case. This section saw Jeff Leyton slip back into the role of JeanValjean to great effect. He has always set the standard for his version of Bring Him Home, and years after first hearing him sing this it still makes me tingle as to his voice control. Again ably supported by a whole host of local talent including Bobby and Kim again, this was a veritable feast for those of us ‘Glums’ lovers.

It was nearly over now, but there was still time for Jackie Storrar, together with a backing choir to entertain with a version of Dougie McLean’s ’Caledonia’ which she also released sometime ago.

And that was just about that. Thanks is due to all the performers who entertained so royally, to the production crew and techies who kept it all together and the management and staff from the Alhambra Theatre for so royally entertaining one and all.

Same again next year guys?

Reviewed by Geoff

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