John Howe Presentations Ltd. Showcase 2014 session 1
Riverside Park Bognor Regis
November 17th 2014
Producer: Richard Walker-Glen
John Howe Presentations Ltd. Showcase 2014
Riverside Park Bognor Regis
November 17th 2014
Producer: Richard Walker-Glen
After many successful years spent in the agency business, John and Dot Howe staged their winter showcase at The Riverside. After paddling through the rain and mud into the room, where Noah could well have chosen Bognor to build his ark outside, it was comedian Tank Sherman, who kept the tradition of business-like and comedy comperes alive. After an all too brief opening by this recently less heavily armoured Tank, it was four piece semi-live band Chemistry who kicked things off. Two boys on instruments and two girls, providing vocals and eye candy, make up a fun holiday centre style line-up, which is sure to attract interest.
Joshua Takacs is a smart young swing and light opera singer, who certainly dresses the part. Pencil-slim and personable, Takacs has the look of an entertainer who is trying cabaret, after already having completed a musical theatre or cruise chorus education. All of which bodes well for the future.
For the budget-conscious, Abba 2 could just fit the bill. A two girl act, one blonde and one brunette, this twosome gave us a segued slot of hits which could just convince bookers, who don’t want to fork out for a full band, to put some work their way.
For those of us cursed with being old enough to remember, many good class hotels used to present speciality dancers within their entertainment package many years ago. Steeped in the creed of those far off days is Two’s The Limit. The Sting song Roxanne, imaginatively set to a tango rhythm, was followed by a humorous and at times touching routine, in which both the male and female members of the act were featured in equal measure. A cross-dressing ballet sketch completed a more than favourable picture.
Singer Carolann dresses to impress and looks as though she is accustomed to entertaining smaller and more intimate audiences. The direct approach suggests a club and pub entertainer who is striving to climb the ladder. I do hope there is a foothold for her on one of the higher rungs.
Swing singer Tony Tyler’s voice lacks depth and seems somehow lightweight and rather throaty. Better use of the diaphragm is the key and this is something many of today’s singers would do well to acknowledge and learn. I would imagine Tyler is better in the higher registers, but his chest voice seems underdeveloped.
Comedy magician Simon Vertue’s performance presented his audience with a mass of contradictions. A quintessentially traditional magic cabaret style opening was rapidly followed by lots of comedy chat. The ‘oggy oggy oggy’ opening was as unexpected as it was incongruous. The patter which followed, although funny, would be unacceptable to many cruise ship audiences, which this entertainer aspires to work in front of. However this combination of styles could still attract a pretty diverse range of business nonetheless.
The Poppies are a three part harmony, Andrews Sisters style act, who are as vocally gifted as they are good to look at. This trio has the look of a fairly new act, but they should hit the ground running on this impressive showing. The nostalgia and themed cabaret scene should lap these girls up.
The market which exists for family style comedy on holiday parks is both indisputable and potentially lucrative when performed properly. Simon and Lee, who are known together as Double Impact, present some effective comedy parody in song form, as well as some nice, well-honed patter. Corporate identity conscious holiday parks will want these guys and their already busy diary is sure to become even more heavily marked on this impressive showing.
We were informed that experienced looking singer Rebecca Brookes spends much of her working life on the holiday Island of Tenerife. I happen to know there still remains a vibrant, civilised and well-presented cabaret scene on this particular Canary Island. The tuneful and well-presented Ms Brookes is now back in the UK and looking for work. This talented lady looks the part and does the business. Enough said!
A surprise guest on the night was comedy magician Andre, whose witty and fast-moving performance I have seen and enjoyed before. I would imagine that, there aren’t many audiences around which would frighten this slick and wise-cracking conjuror. In fact I would predict that Andre could emerge victorious in most cabaret situations, just as he undoubtedly did here.
Jason Lee Howlett is very impressive in all departments. This charismatic singer and entertainer performs in a Four Seasons tribute act, but solo work also abounds for this expansive and easy on the ear entertainer. In personality terms, Howlett is a stand-out performer.
Bournemouth based singer Bianca is one of a vast army of solo singers who eschew the use of a suitable stage name in favour of a single forename moniker. Admittedly the absence of a surname has not incommoded the careers of Cher, Lulu and Adele to name but a few. However, making a name in the cabaret scene requires not only the voice, but the identity too. In my view, what sounds like a rather limited and untrained vocal range, presents the very pretty Bianca with one problem too many.
Closing the show out on the first of five sessions was five piece band Ubermeister. The Huey Lewis song Power of Love was expertly sung and played live (and I do mean LIVE). Guitar, drums, bass, keys and male and female vocals make up the line-up here. Ubermeister are a highly workable holiday centre/function band, who closed out a very enjoyable opening session.
Session two John Howe Presentations Showcase 2014
November 18th 2014
As bookers reconvened again for the short afternoon session on day two, it was the task of comedian Tank Sherman to warm up the attendees. Many bookers, arriving straight off the golf course, were soon listening to the dulcet tones of singer and guitarist Dave Robson. Clearly an adaptable and reliable entertainer, I would imagine that many in the industry just book him and forget it. A true pro has a certain assured look and to Robson, the art of entertaining is easy-peasy.
Conversely, James Riley is probably at the opposite end of the career journey. There are two ways to look at Riley’s performance. The positive way would be to look at a young man who performs comedy magic, comedy patter, dancing and songs from musical theatre and is certainly trained and versatile. The rather more negative way to pigeon-hole this performer, as this industry loves to do, is as a young man who really isn’t certain where his best performance is liable to come from. This was young Riley’s first ever showcase appearance and I’m sure in years to come he will look back on this as the first major bend in his steep learning curve.
After a repeat performance from singer Joshua Takacs, who had appeared on the previous evening, it was the turn of Joanna Andrews. All the signs point towards theatre-training here. Ms Andrews has a trick or two up her sleeve in terms of presentational skills. Vocally gifted and true and accurate in pitch terms, this is a highly workable, well dressed and totally professional artiste.
Closing a slightly truncated afternoon session out, was glamorous singing star Alicia Brady. My response to Ms Brady’s talents at the Crossland/Angle Entertainments showcase, the last time I was invited to cover this event a couple of years ago, was enthusiastic and even gushing. Another more recent look at her in action on stage in Blackpool, confirmed my belief that this is a cruise-ship headliner in all but name. Adapting her voice to a variety of styles and genre, allied to her wonderfully expressive face and stage wear dress sense, is Ms Brady’s stock in trade. This fine young artiste placed the bow on the wrapping paper of this impressive showcase parcel.