Nicely spinning off from the best Saturday evening entertainment show on television at the moment (yes, we’re strictly a Strictly family), this charity event at the Derngate encourages local celebrities, business people and dignitaries to strut their funky stuff on stage in fabulous costumes, impressing knowledgeable (and suitably kindly) judges (including Strictly Come Dancing’s Brian Fortuna no less), to the texting approbation of the audience (50p per text, at least 20p goes to the charity) and all held superbly in place by BBC Radio Northampton’s Bernie Keith as the masterful host.
My absolute admiration goes out to all the dancers for the effort and sheer guts to get up on the stage of the Derngate – on a packed Saturday night – to dance in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Some of them were remarkably good! One or two of them were not quite so twinkle-toed, but who cares? It was also impressive to see how well our young local talent can perform; the show was mounted by the Step by Step Dance School and they are obviously great at developing young people into skilful dancers.
There were eighteen contestants, and each had to do a waltz, a jive and a freestyle. The waltzes and jives were performed first, three at a time, so there was plenty to watch on stage at any one moment. The freestyles were then performed individually, so every couple had their minute or two under the lone spotlight. Terrifying. I couldn’t even have done the ensemble marching around the stage that all eighteen couples did without colliding into each other.
The winning contestant was Northants Cricket Club’s Rob White and his partner Ruth Supple, and in my opinion he was a worthy winner. Whether it’s because sportsmen and women are simply more competitive, or because they are more physically fit I don’t know, but they always seem to do well in this sort of contest. His freestyle dance was performed to the tune of the BBC Test Match Cricket show, and was a perfect mix of choreography and humour.
Other really entertaining freestyles included Stephen Church’s “Always look on the bright side of life” dressed as a tramp; Radio Northampton’s Pete Cooper dressed like Olivia Newton-John in her “Physical” video; Northampton Chronicle’s Sports Writer Tom Vickers as a nerdy superman doing “Holding out for a hero”, Barclaycard’s Caroline Pugh doing eye-popping lifts in “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, and Northants Police Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport nicking her dance partner Adrian Laitt with his bag of swag and handcuffing him to a lamppost. All the other competitors were magic too. It was great that these people entered into the spirit of the fun like this for charity.
Other highlights included a couple of songs from Britain’s Got Talent finalist and local girl Faryl Smith, and a guest appearance by “Super Gran” Ann Timson who saw off the jewel thieves in that failed smash-n-grab robbery attempt in Northampton earlier this year. There was a super display of dancing from the kids of Preston Hedges Primary School as well, showing that even tiny tootsies can weave fancy footwork. Overseeing and presenting the whole thing was the wonderful Bernie Keith, with a couple of fantastic over-the-top outfits and a very very funny script. He should do more stage stuff – he’s brilliant! A thoroughly enjoyable and escapist evening that the whole town could support, and that raised over £30,000 for Macmillan. We look forward to next year’s show!