top of page
  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 That'll Be The Day Christmas Show

📍 Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 5EZ

🗓 Monday 27th November 2023



Topped with lashings of Christmas spirit the now legendary Christmas production from That'll Be The Day rocked into Torquay's Princess Theatre this week and from the moment the show began this hard working company gave a high energy performance, never failing to delight.

As they invite us to step into Christmas (pun intended!) the band erupts into an overture of festive favourite In Dulce Jubilo before the frontline enter the stage to perform a mash up of Merry Christmas Everyone and Wonderful Christmastime. After just the first few minutes it’s obvious the audience are completely on side and eager for a fun-filled night of yuletide entertainment.

Led from the front by the show’s creator / director / producer Trevor Payne, this multi-talented company never fails to disappoint with each and every version of the show. The That’ll Be The Day Christmas Show is a mixture of well known Christmas songs and songs that were hits over Christmases past, and this seems to be a winning formula. In fact this is the 36th Christmas Show they have done!

The show is cleverly made up of small production pieces, which enables them to showcase a myriad of songs and group them together in ingenious ways. A stalwart of every Christmas Show is the Juke Box Jury section which kicks off the proceedings, and as Payne performs Singing The Blues the entire audience joins in. That’ll Be The Day began life on the cabaret circuit in the 1980’s and encourages audience participation from the outset, so singing along is allowed here!

This section also features newcomer Gemma Nelson with a glorious version of Warm This Winter and finishes with an incredible performance from Peter John Jackson singing My Prayer.

We’re also treated to Pick of the Christmas Pops as well as an ever-popular Cliff at Christmas section. Payne is uncanny as the Peter Pan of Pop as he performs Mistletoe & Wine, with the audience asked to activate the lights on their phones as he performs. This creates a truly magical moment as the auditorium lights up and it snows on stage!

There are so many incredible performances throughout the first act including Nikki Renee Hechavarria performing The Ronettes version of Sleigh Ride and Seán McAustland lending his wonderful vocals as he leads Little Saint Nick from The Beach Boys, with glorious harmonies from the rest of the company to round off a delightful performance.

The band come together as The Rockin’ Robins to give a real rock and roll performance of Run Rudolph Run, with guitarist Michael Clancy delivering raw lead vocals which are a joy to listen to.

The truly standout performance of the entire evening for me came from Jackson and Jarrod Loughlin who gave an absolutely sensational performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water, which had some members of the audience on their feet at its conclusion. Their voices married together beautifully and I could feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck as I closed my eyes and bathed in the beauty of their perfection.

Other notable performances in act 1 came from Nelson with a gloriously pure version of I’ll Never Find Another You and Gary Anderson who lent his velvety smooth vocals to Ferry Cross The Mersey.

Comedy always plays a huge part in any That’ll Be The Day show, with Payne and Anderson being the perfect double act. This festive season we get a look into how Steptoe & Son are spending their Christmas, Anderson as ever is trying to perform his favourite song and Payne invites the audience to play with his ding-a-ling!

Act 1 finishes with the entire company performing a seasonal medley of songs from The Drifters, ending with White Christmas, which really shows off the tight harmonies on display.

Act 2 is essentially broken into three production pieces and opens with Christmas in Las Vegas and Jackson giving real crooner vibes as he performs The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. This section also treats us to a rock ’n’ roll medley from Anderson as Tom Jones and the sensational Nelson performs as Shania Twain. Hechavarria gives my favourite performance of hers in the show as Diana Ross singing Touch Me In The Morning. Admittedly not normally one of my favourite songs, but I think her version has changed my mind! The section ends with Loughlin as Elton John at the piano performing Step Into Christmas.

We then have the Johnny Cash Christmas Show, with Jackson giving an incredible performance as the Man in Black, and features songs such as Folsom Prison Blues and Winter Wonderland and finishes with Clancy giving an impressive and energetic performance of Must Be Santa.

Our final festive treat is a Top Of The Pops countdown, opening with Mark Street singing I Believe In Father Christmas and McAusland and Nelson giving a great rendition of Fairytale Of New York. Hechavarria lends her soulful voice to lead Mary’s Boy Child and Feliz Navidad, which is met with great joy by the audience.

Vocal chameleon Jackson then transforms into Freddie Mercury and performs a medley of Queen anthems including Bohemian Rhapsody and Thank God It’s Christmas.

The audience are then all up on their feet and there’s a real party atmosphere as a medley of Christmas favourites are performed for the ultimate feel-good end to a fantastic night of festive entertainment.

That’ll Be The Day can surely boast having the most versatile cast of any touring show. They perfectly take off stars from every era and you can hear the authenticity and attention to detail in everything they perform. The incredible band members all play a huge variety of instruments as well as stepping forwards to sing. The only member who doesn’t come forward is Eduardo Neto, but he definitely doesn’t fade into the background. His passion and energy are obvious and alongside his main role on percussion he also plays drums, saxophone and drums!

The That’ll Be The Day Christmas Show is NOT TO BE MISSED, and is sure to get every Grinch in the Christmas mood! The show is playing all over the country until 17th December. Many dates are already sold out with low availably on others so head to now to check out dates and secure your tickets before it’s too late!

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.


Trevor Payne - Vocals / Comedy; Gary Anderson - Vocals / Comedy; Nikki Renee Hechavarria - Vocals; Peter John Jackson - Vocals / Guitar / Bass / Keys; Gemma Nelson - Vocals; Mark Street - Drums / Vocals; Jarrod Loughlin - Bass / Guitar / Keys / Vocals; Michael Clancy - Lead Guitar / Vocals; Seán McAusland - Keyboards / Guitar / Vocals; Eduardo Neto - Percussion / Sax / Drums / Keys

RUNNING TIME (approx):

2 hours 55 minutes, including interval

1 comment

1 Comment

Dec 09, 2023

this crit really doesnt need a comment as every word is accurate- they really are a superbly talented touring show. Meg Turley

bottom of page