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Beyond the Greatest Shows

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A review by Clare Abbott

A beautifully sunny afternoon on 14th September saw a very special concert presented at St Mary's Church in Haddenham. All generations came together from toddlers to grandparents in this family-friendly matinee concert.

As part of the Haddenham Feast celebrations, a local string quartet, Masquerade, featuring Haddenham residents Mark and Liz Chivers took to the stage. The quartet tour with household names such as Catherine Jenkins and Russell Watson which is how they came to meet singing sensation Alice Fearn.

Alice, a West End star and extraordinary performer, not only agreed to join Masquerade for the concert, but also gave up her time and expertise to put on a free children's masterclass earlier in the day.

Alice provided Mark (viola player) with a list of songs which she'd like to perform. Mark then expertly arranged these pieces (which are predominantly orchestral or piano parts) in to a bright and harmonious repertoire which the quartet brought to life with perfection.

We heard iconic songs from the West End such as Defying Gravity from Wicked to the haunting beauty of With You from Ghost. All sung with emotion and beauty by Alice, complimented by the professional polish by Masquerade — there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Alice was also joined by special guests for one song. The children who had attended her singing masterclass earlier in the day performed 'For Good' alongside Alice and Masquerade. A wonderful chance for our children to sing alongside theatre royalty with a live professional quartet.

Alice had clearly worked her magic as the children sang out beautifully. The bond she had made with the children that day shone through as they all joined in on a huge group hug when they had finished. A moment I'm sure many of them will cherish.

Half way through in the interval there were cakes baked by local parents with tea and coffee and juice for the little ones — thank you to Haddenham's Ruth Talbot for ensuring all were fed and watered.

As the concert progressed we heard spellbinding renditions not only of iconic songs from theatre land, but also some well known numbers from the silver screen. Alice sung hits from films such as Toy Story, The Greatest Showman and the big chart hit from the Bond movie by the same name — Skyfall. The golden age of song wasn't left behind either as the collaboration produced beautiful renditions of the jazz standard classics such as Bewitched and a lovely instrumental arrangement of Fly me to the Moon.

The performance was extremely polished. The audience laughed and cried and there was something for everyone. A very special afternoon for the audience and a triumph for the inaugural Haddenham Feast Festival.