Always enjoyable and, aside from one holiday hiatus two years ago, an annual trip for many years to this splendid hotel venue, on the North Wales border for this reviewer.
The ever urbane and thoroughly professional Mr Bridson was, as ever at showcase nights, firmly ensconced in the foyer in order to welcome his guests into the charming ambience of this cabaret room.
The evening began with a culinary surprise as I ordered my dinner from a charming Romanian waitress, who remarkably seemed to remember serving me at this event, this time last year. Even more remarkably perhaps, this young lady also seemed to remember the exact dish I ordered. Clearly, I have a very memorable face, hopefully for all the right reasons.
The well marshalled production crew, led by Producer Gary Hearne had everything all set and ready for action, as Compere Gary T Davies opened in song with a bit of glam-rock. Davies is always good value in terms of linking a show. An industry professional, Mr Davies can entertain any audience, from the tiniest of tots to a crowd of granny’s.
Gorgeous singer Ella Coleman looked ravishing and ravish-able in her sparkling stage outfit. Ms Coleman looks like the real deal in every respect, as she gave us an up to date arrangement of Ave Maria, as well as one or two more up to date dance-based tracks. The best compliment I can pay this fine young artiste is that she seems to have come up with an amalgam of a stage school tricks with a girl band style in crowd approach. This really was a fine performance.
In Tribute-land there are many Gary Barlow’s out there. Tommy Barron’s version of the tuneful Mancunian left little to be desired, in both lookalike and vocal quality. There is sure to be more business out there. Seated next to me was Live Business booker and UK Cabaret subscriber Peter Chittenden, who opined favourably on the quality of Mr Barron’s dimples.
Next came The Dale Wingbottom Experience Here we have a young puppeteer claiming association with the massive Jim Henson set-up. In my view, individual characters performing entire songs will try the patience and attention span of many audiences. Despite the impressive theatre style set-up, the general performance just didn’t seem enough somehow.
Lucia Matisse is a singer who gave us songs synonymous with the likes of Etta James and Eva Cassidy. This curvaceous singing star comes complete with a toothpaste ad smile and a cascade of blonde curls. Highly professional and thoroughly switched on, Matisse is a real stunner.
Hard-working comedian Joey Howard has aged like fine wine and a sight gag with a saw was delightfully comic and meticulously executed. Howard has the lot. Nothing will phase this mega-experienced funny man, who has just returned from a long-term engagement in Spain.
Closing out the first half was a two-boy soul music revue, who go by the name of Ronnie and Scott. This guys revealed a humorous and polished line in crowd approach, all gained no doubt from experience in good class venues. There was no ambiguity between the backing tracks and the live vocals. Ronnie and Scott are simply terrific and can really sing and perform with aplomb.
After a welcome interval, Compere Gary T Davies was soon out and about his business, as the mood was set for the second session.
Opening act was trendy looking young singer Andy Otley, of whom it was revealed during his introduction has a very famous Uncle. He we met the nephew of none other than Sir Ken Dodd. The timbre of the singing voice is similar to a certain Michael Buble and this bonny lad was soon out trawling the audience and getting up close to the lovely ladies. Surely there will be work-a-plenty out there for Mr Otley.
For some reason, when magician Jay Gatling leapt on stage, I immediately thought of Harry Potter, but without the spectacles. The style of patter was very much of the Derren Brown witty, throwaway style and the audience participation content would appeal to adult audiences. All of which would seem to mean that this successful showcase outing may well attract some corporate style business.
Lenny Anderson is one of the many cabaret singers who made the successful transition into stand-up comedy. This Liverpudlian joker takes his time and explores familiar themes and has an offbeat line in crowd approach. Anderson knows the score and scored heavily on the night at the Paul Bridson Showcase.
I first saw doll-like, ravishing singer Gemma Louise Doyle at a showcase in Liverpool three years ago. On my first viewing I was mesmerised by her sheer talent. Her outing on this evening produced even more reviewer’s goose-pimples, as the waif-like Ms Doyle gave it all she had. All the more surprising then, that an artiste with such a vocal talent and possessing as much ingredient X as this artiste clearly does, has yet to make any kind of significant breakthrough. Perhaps a good strong management, with the time and the inclination to devote themselves to handling her entire career, may provide the key to remove whatever the obstacle is, which appears to be stopping Miss Doyle’s surely inevitable march to fame in its tracks.
Faith is the collective name of a pair of identical twins, Chloe and Amy, who sing and harmonise very well. The image pitch was more rock chic than cabaret, but this is a high-quality duo attraction with a twist. A twin duo act half as good as these ladies would score heavily, so I would suggest there is a certain inevitability to Faith filling their 2017 diary with high quality work. These ladies won’t need to rely on much in the way of faith for their success. Faith are quite outstanding!
Closing the whole event out was Boy Band Reunion. Here we have three bonny lads, performing a kind of generic and collective tribute to boy bands of all kinds and from all era’s. As ever with acts like this one, with backing vocals present on backing tracks, there is always an ambiguity between what is actually being produced live and what is on the track. What Boy Band Reunion do, they do quite well but, in my view, there are many better examples of this style of act around.
As ever Paul Bridson and his team pulled out all the stops and this was one heck of a successful evening, spent in pleasant company and staged in a venue which is both atmospheric and fit for purpose.