Showcase Productions showcase 2016 session one
Arts House Stratford On Avon
January 25,26 &27
Producer Barrie Lucas& Colin Jones
The memories flooded back just as the years rolled back, and a new showcase returns to a very familiar and some would even say iconic venue. Who better to kick things off than the legendary Compere Tufty Gordon.
A virtual full house, made up of agents and booker’s and not simply other acts and onlookers, gathered for a sparklingly eclectic opening session. Meet and greet responsibilities fell to Showmaster entertainments and in particular Dewi the amazing talking dragon, whose interactive nature wowed the early evening attendees. Dean Taylor also appeared in the guise of Keith Lemon. The versatile Mr Taylor is one of the many unsung heroes of show business, with his huge roster of characters wowing audiences for years now.
The inimitable Tufty was soon twinkling away and propelling the showcase ball into motion with the arrival of a four piece band, whose entire vocal contribution came from a remarkable front man. This top-drawer attraction is The Dan Carney Band and the business should be copious and lucrative on this impressive showing.
Dynamix are a young image cabaret duo, comprising a strong and confident male singer called Michael and an extremely strong female harmony partner, by the name of Cary. This is a lovely act and the pair of them gave an object lesson in how to present an already strong act, aided with successful stage presentation and eye-catching stage wear.
The Sirens comprise two drop-dead gorgeous ladies, one blonde, one brunette, who opened with a clever arrangement of the Blondie hit, Call Me. The frocks, the harmonies, the choreographed movement and the whole confection looked to me to be pitched perfectly as a brand new act.
Musical theatre style cabaret singer Richard Beavis is also well-known and widely admired on the UK scene. Beavis has been around a long while now and the skills and talent are still as easy on the ear and eye as ever they were.
The Two Harmonies comprise two bonny lads who are both well-presented and extremely tuneful. UK Cabaret subscribers John and Dot Howe know their onions, as well as their acts and I’m sure these guys will have found their trip to Shakespeare country well worth making.
Comedy entertainer Tasha came next and I have heard much about her on the grapevine. A succession of sight gags, fat gags and broad comedy is on offer here from this diminutive comedy nutcase. Given the addition of some light and shade in her comedy character could just produce an entertainer relevant to the needs of many areas of the entertainment market-place.
The gorgeous Donna Ramsdale brought her band 80’s Revival along. A three piece semi-live band were joined on stage by two highly decorative and skilled female dancers and of course the stunning Miss Ramsdale. Possibly at the higher end of the genre tribute market, 80’s Revival is a show that will no doubt sell and sell.
Bootleg Lennon is a band member of various Beatles tribute bands, who has fashioned a solo act. The framework of the act needs tightening, but appeal from budget-conscious venues is sure to be exploited.
Tim and Tony Strange present a familiar straight man and stooge comedy routine. What should be said is that here we have a well-honed and original comedy act with a difference. What sets this act apart, in my view, is the absolutely plausible nature of the content. These guys are comedy technicians and it’s always a treat to see real pro’s work.
Boombox is the name of one of the splendid selection of pro-bands from the stable of UK Cabaret subscribers Bigfoot Events. A stand-out male vocalist here, with enough live musical content to please the live band purists, Boombox proved to be an enormous hit in the room.
Stevie One is a solo tribute to one of the all-time greats. Under the dreadlocks and shades, I still managed to recognise this fine vocalist from a number of other tribute acts. There are precious few singers with the bottle to attempt this particular tribute and for this, Stevie One deserves enormous credit.
Peter Sarsfield is a solo Frankie Valli tribute, who has enjoyed some recent telly exposure in Harry Hill’s, in my view leaden and ultimately cringe-worthy attempt at revamping Stars in Their Eyes. I do hope Sarsfield’s brief television odyssey did him some good. He is certainly a tip-top solo tribute by anyone’s reckoning.
Innocent Souls is the collective name of a three girl holiday centre style act from the West Country. This has the look of a new act and I’m sure the atmosphere and the sheer experience of performing at this venue will have done these young ladies no end of good.
Linacre and Knights are proving enormously popular at showcases. Rob and Dan’s voices just seem to gel and perhaps if this was a full-time project for these gentlemen, they would surely be cutting an even bigger swathe across the cruise cabaret market already. However I hear Linacre and Knights are being offered some quality work nonetheless. Despite their part-time status as a double act, these guys sound as though they were born to sing together.
Boomin’ is a real personal favourite band of mine. The ultimate punchy and totally live three-piece seem to be doing the showcase rounds. Surely the diary must be bulging for this high-energy band already on this extraordinarily powerful and energetic showing. Boomin’ is certainly a standout attraction in the true live band market.
Closing the show on the first evening was Skadiac Arrest. Brought along to us by UK Cabaret subscriber and agent’s association councillor Neil Tomlinson of The Act Store. These guys got off to a false start, due to a technical issue. Once into their stride, this punchy three piece gave us their two-tone Ska, in segue form. This was a powerful and compelling pitch from a band who are sure to work and work.
So the first evening ended well before midnight and with the much-loved Tufty Gordon very much back on his old stamping ground.
Experts Choice: We asked some of the bookers attending the showcase to select their favourite acts from the showcase
Jon Chunkie Russell from Brean Leisure Park chose Linacre and Knights and Boomin’.
Peter Allen from Peter Allen Leisure Services chose Linacre and Knights and Boomin’.