Lucas management showcase 2021
Cleveleys Royal British Legion club, Lancashire.
June 4th ‘21
Producer: Barrie and Vicci Lucas
Reviewer: Mark Ritchie
This is the first review we have managed to publish for such a long time and although we have been publishing material online throughout the pandemic, none of the content has been in review form. The reason is of course there has been absolutely nothing to review.
Even though some readers may believe that a return to reviewing is well overdue, I decided against a technical review of this event about halfway through the show itself. As managing editor, I alone take the blame when blame is due, but on the flipside of the job I am at least able to make instant decisions. I think that most readers will understand why I took this decision if you continue to read this piece.
In my own capacity as an entertainer, I have only recently returned to live stage work myself and I know that if I had been away from the stage for months on-end, the last thing I would want is a magazine reviewer picking my act apart, when quite naturally and understandably I was struggling to actually remember how it is all meant to go.
In my own small way, I understand the mentality of the performer. This precise juncture in which we try to get used to being on-stage again, is not the time to assess individual performances and make comparisons between similar types of acts in the 21st century show business market place, which is to my mind the true purpose of a review.
It seems quite apposite that the first show we are invited to attend, since things began to return to the comfort of relative normality, was organised by the very wonderful Barrie and Vicci Lucas.
It was a hot evening on the Fylde coast, and as a result of an encounter on the road with a drunk driver ages ago, I am still on strong pain relief medication, which makes me overheated in the first place whatever the weather.
It was nice to see old friends in attendance in Cleveleys such as Julie Gould and Roger Troman, who are now running an agency I hear. Perhaps we may even attract them into the pages of UK Cabaret sometime as subscribers. A lovely sprinkling of agents and bookers sat at the rear of the club’s function room which, with a good upgrade, could make a superb live entertainment venue, as it apparently once was back in the old Clubland heydays.
The sun shimmered over the sea, the splendid Isle of Man could be seen clearly in the distance and once indoors this showcase certainly attracted a healthy attendance.
Comedy Compere Lee Lard was most probably getting in some valuable showbiz batting practice as he warmed up the early evening crowd with his assured brand of bawdy comedy commentary and barbed humour. The laughs arrived bang on cue after a bit of exploratory audience prodding, with the biggest guffaws being created by some speculation from Mr Lard concerning the sex lives of a Shirley Bassey tribute artiste and her partner, a devotee of Nat King Cole, who had just become engaged to be married. If Lee Lard was apprehensive about returning to comedy after such a long break, he certainly didn’t let the audience notice.
Amanda Jayne as Dame Shirley Bassey and Mark Anthony Hall as Nat King Cole have clearly been around the block a few times and may tick a box or two for dinner cabaret bookers. Although I had left the building by then, it seems the couple also appeared later in the evening as a singing duo known as Life & Soul.
Kofi Taylor took my eye. A smooth bi-lingual Spanish speaker, who is Welsh by birth, young Mr Tayler is a natural and instinctive singer and entertainer and is sure to do well. He also appeared later in the evening with the larger than life singing presence this is JJ Gibson. Together the boys offer a duo called Glow Up.
The Rodfather has been plying his trade as a tribute singer working in sunnier climes up until the calamity of Covid clouded the cabaret scene worldwide. In one of my old stamping grounds in Spain, I spotted him one night at a restaurant venue doing his Rod Stewart act, where he more than managed to please a rather difficult audience as I recall. On this latest viewing The Rodfather, who appeared notably in the TV comedy Benidorm, should fill his UK diary with ease, global pandemics permitting of course!
Rachel Lee has a big voice and her agents believe her to be the real deal for those looking for a lively singer with a huge repertoire. All Star Groove also appeared and this four-piece function band are also highly regarded by the Lucas’s and do their best work by getting any party started.
I had forgotten how many hits the seventies band Pickettywitch enjoyed success with. A band called Pickettywitch’d played and sang lots of hits from the 60’s and 70’s. They even dressed the part, with the singer sporting a floppy wide-brimmed hat and the kind of long, flowing flowery garment, which I am sadly old enough to remember when such a look was fashionable.
On the night it was clear that the lighting and sound were not of the best, but hey, this is true live entertainment and, in all honesty, this was an audience that was really up for some true live entertainment. Many locals and club members joined the bookers and filled a social club concert room which would have been fashionably designed and decorated back in the late 1980’s perhaps.
The overall feeling from those rather rusty entertainers on-stage probably was and indeed should have been sheer relief just to get out there and at it again.
For audiences the feeling of collective attention, which has been eroded and all but lost in so many live cabaret venues during recent times, will have been damaged yet further by a period in our history when so many of us were either locked away and ‘self-isolating’ or within the comforting arms of our respective ‘bubbles’ of friends and family type folk.
All of which leaves me pondering how the world of live entertainment can help and encourage people just to ‘be normal’ again and actually remember how to socialise. It may take a while.
The masks don’t help. The distancing is all invasive. This is very much a work in progress, but coming out of the other side of Covid-19 we live in hope. Perhaps for this and this alone we should consider ourselves extremely fortunate.