Stoke's Top Talent 2012: Gymnasts score perfect 10s with show's judges
TEAM GB's gymnasts have just enjoyed their most successful Olympics ever – and two eight-year-olds from Talke could soon be emulating Beth Tweddle and co.
Harley Spann and Lewis Bagguley – who form dance/gymnastics act NRG – were among the stars at last night's second heat of Stoke's Top Talent.
The youngsters' unique act combined elements from a gymnastics floor routine – such as back flips and handstands – with modern dance moves, all set to a Robbie Williams soundtrack.
And it was a combination which won over last night's panel and earned them a place in Saturday's final.
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The heat's judges, which included Hollyoaks star Rachel Shenton, were left breathless by the pair's talent and confidence.
Norman Tudor didn't manage any back flips in his act at all, but considering he is 73 years old that can probably be forgiven.
The singer, from Cheadle, has made it to the heats of every season of Stoke's Top Talent so far, and this year he treated the audience to Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera – while clad in full Phantom costume.
But sadly Norman's dream of winning the competition will have to wait for another year, as he was not one of the two acts who were chosen to progress to the final.
Hype's combined age is much less than 73, but what they lacked in years they made up for in youthful exuberance and sparkly trousers.
The dance troupe, made up of four girls aged between 10 and 15 from Stoke-on-Trent, had the difficult task of opening last night's show, but their choreography was tight and their trousers were very eye catching.
The problem with street dance is that it has become so commonplace that you have to be very good – or alternatively, very bad – to stand out from the crowd.
Denon Ford, from Chell, brought a bit of originality to the genre with a glow-in-the-dark outfit and futuristic sound effects, although this necessitated a rather long pause while he changed costume.
Georgia Stanway's rendition of Corrine Bailey Rae's Like a Star was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening.
With just her own guitar for accompaniment, Georgia still managed to fill the auditorium with her timeless voice.
The 17-year-old, from Stafford, had the originality to pick a song the audience hadn't heard a million times before – although one judge considered this to be a problem.
By contrast, 46-year-old Linda Dean's chose the classic Time to Say Goodbye.
Linda, from Knypersley, who has performed pop-rock songs in previous years, certainly gave it some welly under the spotlight.
Singer Gareth Ridge, from Longton who recently made it through to the final 60 of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Superstar, showed off his vocal range with his version of Queen's Too Much Love Will Kill You.
While there was no doubting the 26-year-old's talent, some judges noted that he was rather static behind his mic stand.
Perhaps he could try borrowing some sharp moves from Lewis and Harley?
Fifteen-year-old Lindsay Kearns, who gave a rousing performance of show tune Don't Rain on my Parade, was a clear crowd favourite.
The teenager from Fenton, who studies at the prestigious Hammond School in Chester, has already appeared in the West End, and judging from her performance last night, she will be back there soon.
Teenager Leanne Walker is another youngster with a big voice, as demonstrated by her rendition of Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing.
And the judges agreed that she has a bright future ahead of her by putting her through to the final.
Perhaps the only problem with African drummer Jake Matthews's act was that it was too short.
The 16-year-old's amazing dexterity in his solo performance on two drums wowed the judges, but the audience was left with the feeling that there is plenty more to come from the talented musician.
In the end, there could only be two winners to go through to the final, and the judging panel's choice of NRG and Leanne Walker was a popular one.