The Thursford Christmas Spectacular has been called the world’s largest village show and one of the best kept secrets in showbusiness - a £3m West End-scale production staged with a cast of hundreds in a huge agricultural shed full of the carousels, showman's engines and fairground organs of a Norfolk steam museum, the whole thing decked with so many lights it looks like an Aladdin's Cave. This year’s cast includes juggler and diabolist Grant Goldie who told me all about it:
Growing up in Norfolk, did you go to Thursford as a child?
I first went when I was five, and what I remember most was how cold it was. There was no heating in the barn in those days and you could see your breath. Luckily it’s a lot warmer now.
It’s a monster show, with so many people doing so much that it’s quite unbelievable. Everyone says, ‘You’re playing to 1400 people twice a day for two months? Where’s that - London?’ No, it’s 40 miles from the nearest dual carriageway! I don’t know how it’s grown so big, except that they’re obviously doing something right. There’s loads of room backstage with a big green room and a rehearsal area. The wings are massive, as is the venue.
How did you get involved?
A friend recommended me for Santa’s Magical Journey, which is a walk-through experience on the side. The kids meet Santa, then there’s a 120-seat theatre area with magicians etc. I did that last year, then this year they put me in the main show. The only restriction is there’s not much headroom for diabolo, so I do most of the routine on the D section in front of the stage, then there’s a bit to the side with more height, so I go there for a higher throw.
How does Thursford compare with your usual work?
I usually play international street theatre festivals, but Thursford is great, because it's like Christmas for two months. Even the houses in the village put up their decorations in November.
The Thursford Christmas Spectacular runs every day until December 23.
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