Mansfield’s answer to X-Factor is still going strong after 40 years.

Lucy Kay
Lucy Kay

More than 500 young performers will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Britain’s Got Talent’s Lucy Kay when they take to the stage in Mansfield’s very own talent show.

The Rotary Club of Mansfield has held its Junior Showtime every year since 1975 and this year’s 40th anniversary event promises to be the biggest ever.

Organiser Paul Bacon has just announced the dates for his year’s heats the 2nd, 3rd and 4th February 2015 at Mansfield Library Theatre on West Gate, with the Final on Saturday 21st February at The Palace Theatre, Mansfield.

He said: “We have seen some really outstanding performances over the years.

Many of our winners have gone into show business, performing in the West End, dancing on cruises and appearing on television.

“It’s a prestigious event in Mansfield and there’s always packed audience at the final.

Classical singer Lucy Kay, who became a TV sensation when she came second in Britain’s Got Talent this year was a Junior Showtime winner in 2008.

The former Cantamus singer and Ashfield School pupil is the latest in a string of successful Junior Showtime performers who have gone on to greater things.

Paul said: “One of the most memorable moments of this year was when Lucy went on to reach the finals of Britain’s Got Talent.

“She invited us down to her performance in the semi-finals at Wembley - it was an amazing experience.”

The opera diva is now on a sell-out tour of the country with theatrical boy band Collabro.

Showtime was the brainchild of the late Canon Robert Warburton, the Rural Dean of Mansfield.

Since then, the event has been organised by recently retired Mansfield optometrist Robert Pinder and nowadays by Paul, a well known former solicitor and father of radio and TV presenter Richard.

Paul says he believes the longevity of the contest has been boosted by the number of TV talent shows now screened.

“I think over the last 15 years the popularity of X Factor and that sort of genre has drawn young people and made them interested in performing arts,” he said.

“We’re just never short of entries - there are around 500 who take part overall and we have expanded the heats from one day to four over the years.”

Down the decades Junior Showtime has seen styles fashions and technology come and go, though songs from famous musicals remain a popular staple.

“Im sure we’ll have several renditions of Let it Go from Frozen this year,” said Paul.

Last year’s winners were street dancers Kailum and Elliott Richardson with a breath-taking routine.

Self-taught Kailum (15) and 14-year-old Elliott were also named winners of the duet category.

Paul said “This year’s Rotary Junior Showtime was an outstanding success with some of the best talent we have ever seen performing.

“Any one of the finalists could have won their section, and I know the judges had the most difficult time ever in making their selections.”

Many past winners and finalists are now professional performers, with several plying their trade in the West End - while 2009 winner Luke Mann finished second in Sky One’s Got To Dance competition.

Mansfield opera singer Carly Hopkinson, who won with Luke Bradshaw in 2006,has appeared regularly on Italian TV station Rai Uno, with Lukein the cast of Evita’s European tour.

The heats take place on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th February 2015 at Mansfield Library Theatre on West Gate, with the Final on Saturday 21st February at The Palace Theatre, Mansfield.

Entry forms and rules can be downloaded from www.mansfieldrotaryclub, following the link to Junior Showtime, or by telephoning the show’s organiser, Paul Bacon, 01623 456086.