DARLINGTON Operatic Society is well-known in the region for producing amateur theatre to a high professional standard at Darlington Hippodrome and its current show, Strictly Musicals 3: The Greatest Show, is no exception.

The evening comprises two one hour acts of back-to-back musical hits from the likes of Cabaret, Miss Saigon and The Book of Mormon. With a professional orchestra, costumes and set design so extravagant, if I hadn't known beforehand that this was an amateur company, I wouldn’t have guessed.

The Northern Echo: Darlington Operatic Society perform a medley from The Greatest ShowmanDarlington Operatic Society perform a medley from The Greatest Showman

Although this is amateur theatre, it’s important to note that there are professional performers within the company, including local singers Claire Willmer and Lizzie Hogarth, who stood out with their jaw-dropping vocal abilities.

Read more: Darlington Operatic Society rises to the challenges of lockdown

Don’t Tell Mama from Cabaret was the best song of the night for me. The choreography was stylish and comical in places. Claire Monaghan’s vocals were strong throughout and I imagine the fast, high-energy song was not easy to sing.

One Night Only from Dreamgirls also stood out. Rhiannon Walker has a beautiful, soulful voice bursting with emotion and if she fancies singing the phone book to me any time, then she should give me a call.

The Northern Echo: Darlington Operatic Society performs a medley from CinderellaDarlington Operatic Society performs a medley from Cinderella

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This World Will Remember Us from Bonnie & Clyde was a change in pace and style. Michael Hirst and Jessica Harrison had great chemistry and characterisation and their voices blended beautifully.

It’s a Musical from Something Rotten brought the first act to a close. This was more comical and showed off some of the talent from the young men of the society. Leighton and Eddie Taylor-Jones were funny and charming in this piece about two brothers in the 1590s trying to write the world’s first musical in the shadow of “The Bard”.

This number was brilliant because it made fun of musicals and how wonderfully ridiculous they are. The notion of suddenly bursting into song and dance and taking exaggerated dramatic pauses for no reason whatsoever was greatly received by the audience and provided some much needed comic relief following some of the more serious songs.

The Northern Echo: The show came to a close with Spread The Love Around from Sister ActThe show came to a close with Spread The Love Around from Sister Act

Of course, a night of musical medleys would not be complete without a selection from Les Miserables. This was excellent. It provided a break from the fun, high-energy numbers and really drew attention to the beautiful voices of Rachel Smith and Lizzie Hogarth in particular.

It’s hard not to like the songs “On My Own”, “Bring Him Home” and “I Dreamed a Dream”. These were performed in a stripped-back way without intricate choreography. It was a very classy piece of musical theatre.

Darlington Operatic Society is arguably the most professional amateur company in the North East and after seeing this show I assume the rehearsal process and the demands on the cast and everyone involved are very high.

It would take an exceptionally fine-tooth comb to find any issues with this show and once again Darlington Operatic Society has proved that Darlington is not short of talent.

The show will run at Darlington Hippodrome until October 30 and tickets are available here.


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