How it began – Jonathan Richards
In this occasional feature some familiar names working on the UK cabaret scene write and tell us how it all began for them
Entertainer and agent Jonathan Richards takes a look around his native Towyn, where his show business journey first began.
Some entertainments fans are claiming that Towyn on the scenic North Wales coast is a sort of mini-Benidorm in terms of the volume of live entertainment on offer for visitors to enjoy.
My friend the Liverpool based entertainer Asa Murphy said of Towyn on his first visit to Towyn’s popular Long Bar venue: ’You could be anywhere abroad, Towyn is a little hidden gem’.
Sleepy in winter, Towyn comes alive during March, although it would be wrong for me to say it is thriving, Towyn is just surviving. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound negative. Towyn still does well, but it seems its best days have passed.
Towyn is where it all began for me in 1994 when I met my friend Craig and we formed the duo Barricade. At the time I was still at school and I could have and perhaps should have stayed to complete my education. It was a no-brainer for me. At the age of 16 the work opportunities were already there. I just knew that the stage was for me. So I thought to myself why wait. Just get out there on that scary stage and learn. No point wasting valuable time. My apprenticeship began. I was learning my craft and suddenly working 5 nights a week and more. Fortunately I made a living straight away and I am pleased to say I still am.
I am now an agent as well and the new acts I get to see and sometimes subsequently book are often good young acts with lots of potential.
Towyn is a stones-throw from the large resort of Ryhl. I feel that Ryhl’s decline is just too depressing to even talk about.
As for the audiences, because of television, the attention span of audiences is now very short. Unless you have that something different and aren’t going to grab the audience’s attention and those who aren’t so fortunate have to work even harder to keep their audience entertained.
Working in the field of comedy as I do, I think it is easy to take the safe route and I have been guilty of that myself in the past. Going for the easy laugh that is guaranteed, instead of taking the challenge of trying new material, is tempting sometimes but I have worked hard to improve and innovate.
Recently I organised an audition night in Towyn and a young lad got up on stage and started singing. His name was Cameron and he was only 17. It shocked me how young he looked, until I remembered that I was even younger when I started. I watched this aspiring beginner and thought well done my friend. This was a reminder of the talent that continues to come through.
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