Everything you've missed over the past 18 months, all condensed into one amazing night performed by truly amazing people"
The Darlington Operatic Society (DOS) Autumn Spectacular Strictly Musicals 3 - The Greatest Show opened last night and once again they delivered a show full of passion, humour and talent. From the opening refrain of the Greatest Showman (from the smoldering Michael Hirst), right through to the confetti explosion at the end of the very apt for the times Spread the Love Around (led by the ever youthful Sam Morrison and Rhiannon Walker), the cast, crew and orchestra never missed a beat, a harmony or a step.
It's well known that DOS has a rich pedigree for bringing together great talent with ambitious choreography and stunning costumes; recent shows include Jekyll and Hyde, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This production not only showcases even more brilliant voices, they open up some new shows which many may have not yet seen in the UK. It is testament to the whole company that they are confident to mix classic with contemporary and do so whilst raising their already high bar even higher.
Hits from current smash shows like award winning Six , Dear Evan Hansen (the movie version premiers this week), Something Rotten (which has yet to open in the UK), The Wiz (just about to commence touring again), The Book of Mormon and current West End darling Cinderella gave the Darlington Hippodrome audience a taste of West End and Broadway well before most people have had the chance to see the full productions.
The DOS 'treatment' (40+ voices in perfect harmony) is given to Les Mis, The Greatest Showman and Cinderella medleys, while solo stars have the audience holding their breath in Bodyguard (Jessica Harrison, Katie Blythe, Claire Willmer, Rhiannon Walker, Kate Williams), The Witches of Eastwick (Zoe Kent, Sam Morrison, Sarah Harland) and La Cage Aux Follies (Julian Cound).
This year, more than ever, sees many powerful, beautiful female voices, each one would deservedly be a leading lady in their own right, but through the brilliant musical direction of Steven Hood they become a collective force majeure.
Just as impressive as the singing is the dancing; the company are able to switch seamlessly from ballroom to hip hop, from ragtime to ballet, with the grace and precision one would normally only expect from professional troupes. Most shows will have 2 or 3 main dance numbers, here there are 13 (complete with costume changes in between) and yet the synchronisation and coordination is flawless.
Director and Choreographer Joanne Hand has ensured that the running order brings variety to the pace and tone; company ensembles are followed by intimate solos, powerful ballads play against comedic romps (It's a Musical from Something Rotten is a riot, playing on the brilliant natural comedy talents of Leighton and Eddie Taylor-Jones). With so many numbers to choose from and a cast who can literally perform ANYTHING, Joanne probably has the hardest job right at the beginning of production in deciding what NOT to include. As mentioned before, the choices for SM3 will undoubtedly open peoples' eyes and ears to new shows as much as help them fall back in love with old ones.
Looking back at previous Strictly Musicals which were great jukeboxes of musical hits, this production feels more mature, more complex and, if at all possible, even more professional - if you love musical theatre, if you want to sit in awe for an evening and marvel at the local talent or if you just want a great night out then I cannot recommend anything better than DOS Strictly Musicals 3 - it is THE Greatest Show.
Details, tickets and times are available at