Next outing for POP STAR of the Century is at High Peak Bookstore next Friday July 14th – how about joining us? Call The Opera House 01298 72190 for tickets. What reviewer Stephanie Billen wrote may encourage you.


It is quite a surreal experience when the genteel, architecturally significant Buxton Pump Room morphs into a working men’s club for the evening.

An enthusiastic crowd filled the venue to witness this transformation as singer Alan Charnley, back on his feet following eight hours of life-saving cancer surgery 11 months ago, took to the stage with his trusty sidekick and master of ceremonies, Herbert Entwhistle (aka Alan’s brother, Chris). This was one of those shows that does what it says on the tin, wheeling out pop star after pop star in a bid to crown one of them ‘pop star of the century’, as voted by us.

Who was better: John Lennon or Cliff, Elvis or Abba, Elton or Boris Johnson…? Sorry, what?! Ah yes, the other extra dimension to this extraordinary night was the surprise appearance of several unwanted politicians. All this was achieved by Charnley through a combination of limitless performance energy, OTT costumes and liberal use of paper masks. The faintly spooky masks were used to great comic effect and for me at least proved weirdly liberating as I sang along to the catchy choruses thinking, probably wrongly, that I couldn’t be seen by our gyrating pop star. On the minus side, the masks, or maybe the mics, or even the Pump Room acoustic, led to a slightly muffled sound at times.

I would have liked a more transparent voting system, but hey, somehow the clapometer/ artificially intelligent stage panda came up with a pop star of the century that we all endorsed. Along the way I found it fascinating to find out which legendary pop stars could survive the whole Doll’s House process. In my view Cilla, Lionel Richie and of course John Lennon came out tops. Hats off to Charnley for his game performance, versatile singing and swift costume changes as he celebrated the talents of some really great pop artists, ably assisted by an MC who was never less than supportive whether chucking out unwanted guests or joining in the performance with a blow up guitar – which he proceeded to play with his teeth …

The next performance is at High Peak Bookstore on the 14th – another good venue for a no holds-barred party night from the award-winning Charnley and his team.

Stephanie Billen

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