This year’s grand final of The Big T on the main stage of Harrogate Theatre proved a huge success.
Even before the contest raised its curtain, pre-show entertainment delighted the audience as they arrived – Mbube performed African songs with drumming on the foyer landing.
Host Alex B Cann skilfully drove the evening forward as MC.
First up were danSing who performed to The Who’s Pinball Wizard with a cheval mirror frame as a pinball machine and pitch-perfect harmonies.
Second up was newcomer comedian 47-year-old Paul Mead, with his self-written gentle comedy persona Paul Bearer, which generated ripples of laughter.
Sam Headford, 16, then performed a stunningly beautiful rendition of Classical Gas.
The youngest contestant of the night, 10-year-old Grace Rogers, who lives in Harrogate and was put in by her singing teacher at Upstage Academy in Ripon, belted out Tomorrow from the show Annie with a voice way beyond her years.
Guitarist Zena Taylor, 15, followed and delighted everyone with one of her own compositions with her sweet and gentle voice.
No stranger to The Big T, having been a finalist in 2014, Penny Bowles, 18, then brought some classical splendour to the contest with Phantom of the Opera’s Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again with staggering power.
The final act of the first section brought some light-hearted fun into the mix – the ten-strong group of 40/50-year-olds Give it some Welly performed Don’t you want me Baby as a comedy sketch, all wearing wellies!
Everyone seated again, Alex B Cann introduced 52-year-old singer/songwriter Dee Levanne.
Normally a street busker in Knaresborough, Dee performed his own song Neurosis with impressive intensity.
Some rock n roll next in the shape of a six strong band of 16/17-year-olds from Harrogate Grammar School, The Pundits who shook everyone out of their seats with the classic 60s rock song Fortunate Son.
The tempo was then brought down, by the crystal clear voice of Sam Brockett, 16-year-old who beguiled everyone with her rendition of I See Fire.
A radical change of scene next in the form of Knaresborough 12-year-old Kaymia Jai Smith who goes to Boroughbridge High School and attends Upstage Academy in Ripon.
To “mix” music, he covered the entire stage with energetic body popping street dance.
The next contendor Martin Rose, 39, simply walked on and played his beautiful acoustic guitar on Fleetwood Mac’s haunting Albatross.
Sisters Charisse and Charlynne Stewart next offered amazing harmonising on Everything has Changed.
Finally, it was the last of 14 acts, Constantly Vocal, ten 14 to 17-year-olds who sang Stitches a capella, with lots of clever movement.
The audience and judges voting took place and the final three acts were announced - Grace Rogers, Kaymia Jai and The Pundits.
Further performances of all three were followed by a further round of voting.
During the vote counting, everyone was enthralled by the Big T’s special guests illusionists Amethyst whose act can be seen in full at Harrogate Theatre on April 9 and 10.
The drum roll moment came and Alex had the audience stamping their feet as he revealed the overall winner – Kaymia Jai. He received £300, with the runners-up each receiving £100.
The celebrity judges also made a wonderful contribution to the evening – TV director Ian Bevitt, Emmerdale star Laura Norton, and Harrogate Theatre’s panto star Tim Stedman. To top it all, Barclays Bank will be match-funding this major fundraiser for Harrogate Theatre.