Switched-On to pop talent

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Theatre fans were left thrilled by a night of top musical entertainment on night two of this year’s Switch-On Festival.

The Magic Of The Musicals cast its spell over The Tower Headlands, with a stunning, high-octane performance from Thriller Live the highlight of the night.

Kerry with daughter Molly

Kerry with daughter Molly

Blackpool dancer, red-haired Rose Wild, in the cast of Thriller, was clearly loving the opportunity to be part of her hometown’s biggest party weekend – a “dream come true” for the 24-year-old.

Earlier in the night, former S Club 7 star Jon Lee wowed the crowd with his falsetto tones, as Frankie Valli in a selection from West End hit Jersey Boys. Joined by his Four Seasons, the set was slick and smart, from the suits, to the harmonies.

Opening the show with a powerful showcase was former Hairspray leading lady, Olivier Award winner Leanne Jones, who was “honoured” to be in the resort and made a brief tribute at the end of track Baltimore And Me, substituting Blackpool in the closing lines.

The full-on musicals experience got under way when the celebration of high camp that is Priscilla Queen Of The Desert burst on to stage . It’s sassy, bright, brash and bold, combining silver gowns which almost out-dazzled the Illuminations, with a super Tina Turner drag act, neon flares and giant floral headdresses.

Contrasting the colours of Priscilla was Chicago’s sexy black-clad showcase of fabulous Fosse choreography, set against stunning vocals from murderesses Roxie and Velma.

Sadly, the closing set from Dirty Dancing – at fewer than 10 minutes long – was something of a lack-lustre anti-climax to end the night.

Their show was due to hit the stage at 8.10pm for 30 minutes, according to backstage set lists. Instead, they started just after 8pm and people were leaving the Prom arena to make their ways home by 8.15.

The three vocal numbers and a dance also lacked real impact – ‘that lift’ aside... Not exactly living up to the billing of ‘the time of my life’.

But that didn’t put off the audience, said to be around 3,000 people in the Headland arena– many of who were continuing the party started on Friday when Peter Kay turned on the Lights.

Greg Jones, 43, from Liverpool, who was with daughter Isabelle, 11, said: “We’ve been really impressed. We wanted to make a weekend of it with the Pleasure Beach and have not been disappointed.”

Cherie Phythian, from Bury, said: “It’s wonderful to have all the acts in one place – and it gives us a good chance to have a bit of a dance too!”

Council ‘extremely pleased’ by weekend

As thousands of music lovers said farewell to this year’s Switch-On Festival, it was hailed as another ‘spectacular’, with more than 3,000 people attending on Saturday and Sunday nights, and an estimated 18,000 passing through the gates on Friday when Peter Kay turned the Lights on.

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and leisure, said: “Overall, we’re extremely pleased with Illuminations Switch-On Weekend.

“As always, the Friday night Switch-On night proved incredibly popular with massive demand and an incredible 77,000 applications for just 20,000 places.

“The show itself was fantastic with Peter Kay, Little Mix, Texas and all the other stars putting on a brilliant night and credit must go to our partners, Rock FM, for their role in bringing the event together.

“Everyone appeared to be in very good spirits and having an excellent time.

“The big Switch-On moment was as spectacular as ever.”

Feedback from this year’s shows has, so far, been good after last year’s event was heavily criticised when just 5,000 people turned out for Switch-On. Many people blamed the £34 ticket price for the poor attendance.

This year’s Switch-On was free for those who had wristbands with Saturday and Sunday’s shows ticketed events.

Coun Cain added: “Reverting back to being a non-commercial event has clearly been the right move for Switch-On and we’ve definitely achieved our aim of kicking off the start of Illuminations season with a bang.

“We hope the three day event will become an integral part of Blackpool’s calendar for years to come and the work to plan for another fantastic show for next year will begin soon.”