Riverside holiday park, Bognor Regis
Producers; John &Dot Howe, Sam Nicol and Tamara Treacy.
November 14&15 2016
Reviewer; Mark Ritchie
John and Dot Howe welcomed clients and guests to Bognor Regis and bookers from the cruise ship cabaret, ferry entertainment and holiday centre market gathered to find new faces.
The Compere on the first session was a pleasant young man called Jason Goodman, who opened in cabaret style, before handling the welcomes and the introductions, via use of cue-cards.
The Neaps are a four piece live-band, with a girl singer out front. These people looked and sounded a little serious for a party band, but musically the band were tight and well-rehearsed, although the microphone sound was a little dry. This factor was probably outside of their control.
Impressive singer Jason Thorpe looks like a fully-rounded cabaret artiste, whose voice is rich and well-delivered. Mr Thorpe presents himself very well and there was very little to do, except for us all to simply sit back and enjoy listening to this fine artiste.
Enter a young man, perched atop a precariously looking stool, playing a guitar and a waif-like female singer. Known collectively as Ginge and Amy, this act will be of interest to the developing live-lounge style of venue and they may just have made a few new friends here.
Singer Keris Lee probably does her best work within the social club market, where she will be able to use her own P.A equipment. This well-dressed lady looked ill at ease on stage. In my view, her voice sounded as though vocal production was a problem to her. There could be number of explanations for the audible hoarseness of delivery. It is not for me to speculate here, but I think I could make a very educated guess. However, that is a matter for Miss Lee.
A real highlight of the evening was the appearance of singer and guitarist Ben Pryer. This sweet-voiced young man performed an acoustic set, which was extremely well-delivered. It was nice to hear Paul Simon’s classic song The Boxer again.
Mark Monroe looked like a highly experienced and very polished cabaret performer, who is probably steeped in the creed of stars such as Engelbert and Tom Jones. A touch of reverb on the microphone may have made the sound a touch smoother, but I was informed that Mr Monroe had asked for the dry microphone sound, so there we are!
Comedian Phil Hoyles, in my view, really needs to go away and think about his act. The comedy material performed was well past its sell-by date. Additionally, in my view, making this very polite audience laugh would have been child’s play for any decent stand-up comedian.
Singer Sarah Dee wasn’t too impressive either. In my view, a very shrill vocal delivery, allied to some pretty poor backing tracks, made this a rather disappointing showcase pitch.
Closing the opening session out was a smart two boy act called Gentlemen Prefer Songs. These performers look like holiday park or resident entertainers of some sort, who have joined together to launch their pitch into cabaret. There will be work aplenty for this act and it was good to see how these boys dress to impress.
John Howe has now been an agent for 31 years and, with the lovely Dot and his production team of Sam Nicol and Tamara Treacy at their side, things went with a swing at The Riverside.
Session two John Howe Presentations Showcase 2016
A new day in Bognor Regis and time to do business again. The following afternoon opened with dapper singer Jason Thorpe taking up the Compere duties.
The first act on the day-time talent roster was Tilah duo. Here we have a mature looking couple, comprising a female singer and her male, guitarist partner. With the look of a lounge act, this pairing was accompanied by some very busy backing tracks and bags of bonhomie. In this business of ours, which is as ageist and sexist as they come, I would suggest that the shelf-life of acts like this one has been drastically reduced in recent times. Quite how musicians of this vintage can persist in performing songs, such as the B 52’s hit Love Shack, without risking at least a degree of incongruity creeping in, is wide open to question in my view.
Young singer Dani Foster arrived dressed to impress, but the look here was of a relative show business beginner, possibly a coat-entertainer who is looking to make the step up, or down depending on how you look at it, into cabaret. On this showing Miss Foster has an awful lot to learn. Hopefully this showcase experience will have proved valuable to her.
In a session filled with singing ladies, who boast ample proportions, we next met Gabriella Parrish. I would imagine gay venues would lap up this well-dressed balladeer, who really knows exactly how to belt out a tune or two.
Mark Maximus is the rather grand name of a comedy magician, whose stock-in-trade would seem to be working the audience. Opening with a Mike Michaels, Las Vegas style opening, this performer cleverly provided us with a running commentary, on how the act might be going if there were lots of families and kids out front. Mr Maximus gave a performance, which at times looked a bit ad-hoc and lacking in pace and direction.
Well-dressed singer Amy Goater committed the cardinal sin, in showcase-land, of performing songs with karaoke-style fade-out backing tracks. Lots to learn here also for this very pleasant vocalist, who informed us between songs that she wanted to, ’shake what her mother had given her-and that is a lot’. Enough said.
Time to break for dinner and some down-time for bookers to mix and mingle with some of the performers on view.
Session three John Howe Presentations Showcase 2016
Vocal comedy entertainer Garry Dorsey picked up the Compere baton for the evening session and things looked to be in very safe hands here.
Matt Wallis is a lounge style vocal instrumentalist, who looked smart and up for business. Keyboards, Guitar and vocals here, from a performer who looks like a former band musician and offered a nice, full self-contained sound.
Lovely singer Ruby Clarke gave us songs from Bonnie Wrait and Nora Jones during a delightful set. All head-voice and little chest voice can sometimes result in vocal problems later in life. Perhaps this is something the gorgeous Miss Clarke may wish to address now, in order to avoid problems later on.
Stage Four Productions UK are a four-handed, show in a box style presentation. Here showcasing a segment of their cinema music and theatre music shows, Jason Lee, Tamara Tracey, Samantha Maybee and the aforementioned Jason Thorpe gave it their all. In my view, there is sure to be interest for this production.
Sam Southall is a natural entertainer, with a spring in his step and a sureness of touch, which is unusual in one so young. A great voice too and some well-chosen songs from a performer, who looks like a lad with a head full of ideas and who was probably born to be in show business.
Magician Scoop approached the job in the same zany and offbeat fashion as that great speciality act of yesteryear, What a Palaver. I loved everything about this outstandingly different speciality act. I have to admit that, during the many, many years I have been in this business, I have never seen a magician wiping a dove’s bottom!
Tom Jones tribute artiste Rob Dee entered sporting a huge grey mane of hair. This was an outstanding look alike and sound-alike, who presented his show with tongue planted firmly in cheek. This was reflected by the removal of his hair, which of course proved to be a wig, at the end of the spot, as Mr Dee took his well-deserved applause.
It was comedy time and enter Luciano Onapotti. This is the comedy creation of Compere Garry Dorsey and he has been successful with this character recently, during a season in Benidorm. Parody songs and audience-participation are really what this act is all about. I personally think this creation is a winner, as did the rest of the audience.
The Sundeas are three magnificently proportioned ladies, who look incredible in their totally OTT gowns. The gay scene is sure to lap these Sundaes up, but I feel there is much for the mum’s and dad’s in the holiday park audiences too. Is this a celebration of obesity or just an extra-large portion of fun? I’m sure most will find The Sundaes extremely tasty!
Flairz is a three-piece glam-rock band, who have probably seen it, done it and worn out the proverbial tee-shirt. The costuming and the height of the platform heels are amazing. The musicianship is top-class. The longevity of this band, who have been together for a quarter of a century this year, is entirely understandable.
As for John and Dot Howe, it seems that every year they promise that this will be their ‘very final showcase’. It is very difficult to believe that people like The Howe’s, who clearly love they do, will ever stop working. I personally hope that they continue to do what they do for many years to come.
And that was that, for another year and hats off to the technical staff for getting many things right, when so much could easily have gone awry.