‘Human Catherine Wheel’ dazzles at swimming pool spectacular

In a spin ... Phil 'The Fox' Rose. Photograph by Willie Robb
In a spin ... Phil 'The Fox' Rose. Photograph by Willie Robb

Expectation of the spectacular from Tongue and Groove’s Midsummer Madness performance at the Pells Pool in Lewes grows year by year – and they didn’t disappoint with their 14th annual fund-raiser on Saturday (June 23).

Tickets for the event sold out within three days – a record for Midsummer Madness – and it was managed impeccably by LYT Productions, the up-and-coming young community production company.

Tongue and Groove delivered a high energy contemporary music set for 90 minutes and then came the eagerly-anticipated finale from Phil ‘The Fox’ Rose.

The Fox was dragged off the stage by security and re-appeared in a prison outfit being marched by crew policemen to the edge of the pool. He was lowered into a HM Prison bag in handcuffs and the bag locked tight.

The fireworks exploded seamlessly to a groovy version of the Superman theme. Suddenly, the Fox escaped from the bag as Superman to rapturous applause, broke his chains and dived into the bed of dry ice floating across the whole pool. He appeared at the other side, climbed a scaffold structure and was strapped on to a huge Catherine Wheel that was propelled round by turbo fireworks for more than a minute until he released himself and dived into the water. This was pure entertainment – with a touch of insanity – at its best.

Starfish Youth Music bands kicked off the evening with some of the most talented local young performers, Lotte Pearl and Kistie Gladman provided great support acts and Sam Brown played a jaw-dropping solo violin set.

Phil said: “This was the best yet. My vision has always been to create safe learning environments for young people by working on real events with real professionals without being judged by the system and the need to hit generic targets that mean nothing. We created that. The LYT team were incredible, as were Waterloo Pyro and bar teams.

“But it was the throng of ecstatic young people at the front who made my night. They were full of energy and joy, which infected us and drove us on. Once again, the Pells Pool pulled out all the stops to accommodate this event. Thank you to Phil Ransley, Pat and the team – and to John the legend for making an insane idea fun and safe.”

This year’s beneficiaries of Midsummer Madness are Starfish Youth Music and the Landport Summer Playscheme.