REVIEW: Encore, Customs House, South Shields, until May 16

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THE latest Encore show contains one of the most moving sections the singing group has ever produced.

We Will Remember Them is a medley of songs to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War.

It starts with jokey, upbeat numbers which reflect the excitement and belief that the conflict would be over by Christmas. Gradually, the tone of songs darkens, echoing the despair as casualties mounted and confidence in the Generals dissipated.

James Taylor’s I Wanna Go Home, and the Encore girls, led by Trish Whale, singing Keep the Home Fires Burning pulled at the heartstrings, as did the last number, And When They Ask Us.

Before this memorable closing act, there was an excellent Jeremy Smile section, which wickedly poked fun at afternoon TV “relationship” shows.

Highlights in this medley were Caroline Wells’ The Mom Song!, James Taylor’s version of The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, and Graeme Smith’s Afternoon Delight.

The show started with a decent medley of Guys and Dolls hits, during which Keith Wigham and Karen Aynsley shone the brightest. After these hits from Frank Loesser came three songs from Sondheim, the best of which was John Robinson’s version of Send in the Clowns, his diction and timing as good as ever.

As usual, the second half opened with a comedy section, this time it was a Carry on Camping. The whole group joined in the clowning, but Alan Davison (Teenager in Love) and Caroline Wells, with a deliciously naughty camping song written by Janet Peel, were at their best.

Janet Peel also showed off her singing ability with a great Cat Duet with Kathryn Atack, before pianist Andrew Richardson stole the spotlight with another show-stopping solo.