Raggamuffins take music by scruff of the neck

Review by Abby Maguire

THE chatter of eager parents overwhelmed the Thameside Theatre. Behind the grand red curtain gathered young dancers and singers, adjourned in dazzling stage outfits and equipped with beautiful voices and flawlessly executed dance moves. When the curtain finally slowly rose, silence fell among the audience, and the performance was about to begin…

Lying on the floor, camouflaged in sandy jumpsuits and prancing to celestial tribal music were the cast of Raggamuffins Dance Group. The little ones were dressed in animal costumes as they circled the stage whilst the older dancers wowed the audience with their impressive gymnastics.

The next performance consisted of seven of the older dancers who lit up the stage in fluorescence, emulating Sharkia’s famous hip shaking to her hit Waka Waka This Time For Africa. One of the girls who suspended in the air by her fellow dancers, much to the audience’s palpable amazement.

The animals then escaped their dressing rooms once again to proudly present their adorable performance extracted The Lion King. Despite the inclement weather beyond the walls of the theatre, it felt like a part of Africa had been brought right before us. A wonderful solo by one of the youngest in the cast brought the audience close to tears with a communal ‘aww!’ The remaining animals joined in the chorus, gently swaying side to side to the rhythm of Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

The Little Mermaid then burst from the speakers, and the dancers rose to their feet in a jazz inspired performance that certain brought back memories of childhood.

“Don’t stop, make it pop, DJ blow my speakers up” was certainly the theme for the next dance that involved several dozen dancers taking the stage by storm to Ke$ha’s number one hit Tik Tok. Ke$ha surrender to your formidable opponents!

Love The Way You Lie was the next dance on offer. Four girls dressed head to toe in black warmed up the audience with their complex moves before two highly skilled ladies in red flipped and cartwheeled in jaw dropped diagonals.

Dancing to Do It Like A Dude where half a dozen girls showcasing insanely flawless hip hop moving to the crescendo of Jessie J’s vocals. In quick succession began Mamma Do with more dancers all equipped with chairs, who began strutting their stuff in a model style routine, posing proudly before their parents clinging to the edge of their seats in pure awe.

Before a psychedelic background, a line of adorable little mermaids, emulating pop icon Katy Perry in her recent hit California Gurls, were laying on the floor with their legs in the air behind them, even with little ribbons in their hair. A little hip shaking, claps and twirls had all the ladies yearning to be a ‘California Gurl‘, as their children stood bedazzled in their iridescence outfits that lit up under the coloured stage lights.

A strobe background raised my expectations for their performance but it seemed as though the starry fabric was dimmed by the sheer talent. Beautiful voices erupt from the darkness, singing to the famous melodies of Man in the Mirror.

After an interval of toe-tapping and ceaseless praise, the audience were ready for more! Forget You began playing as the curtain rose to a round of applause. Three boys and a little lady began the number in a small car, with the stage decorated to emulate the exact scene of Ceo Lo Green’s famous diner infused video.

The unmistakable voice of Beyonce echoed around the theatre. Girls (Run The World) certainly lived up to it’s title when two young ladies hypnotised two little gentlemen into being enthralled by their dancing, though I doubt it took much persuasion. Then an amazing street dancer captured the audience’s breathe in a brilliant performance that would have George Sampson on his knees.

A little interlude from the youngest of the group was a welcomed delight. All were dressed yellow bio hazard uniform on a mission that all children partake in at least once in their lives: calling ghost busters of course!

The strong pound of drums seeped from the speakers from Alesha Dixon’s Drummer Boy, remixed with the infectious Carwash. The older girls sat upon chairs singing to Christina’s hit, up and down like professional Broadway girls. Left and right they moved, twisting and shaking to the jazzy music.

We were brought back centuries as the children swarmed the stage dressed as peasants of the Dickens era. Solos created pockets of applause but the collective dance received a communal congratulations.

Another jazz inspired performance captivated the audience as they watched four of the older girls once again use their chairs to aid their outstanding moves under a backdrop of sparkling stars.

Don’t Run On My Parade allowed the audience to see exactly who inspires their children: their wonderfully gifted teacher, belting out the highest notes effortlessly. She was then joined by her students performing Take A Bow and Telephone. Then came The Only Exception, a Grammy nominated song made famous by Paramore, which was particularly popular among the cheering audience. My Life Would Suck Without You was vocalised with plenty of female attitude.

Then came the finale: Don’t Stop Believing. It summed up a brilliant performance, a performance each and every cast member should be proud of. I see all them in a West End show in years to come! As long as they don’t stop believing, they certainly have the talent to make it a reality!

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