The West Riding National Talent Trail
May 28th 2014.
Westgate Common Club, Wakefield.
Producer John Clayton
After 16 years of writing light entertainment reviews for The Stage, I am pleased to publish this review as the very first to appear right here in UK Cabaret. A splendid evening was had by all at this traditional social club venue as a sprinkling of new talent shone under the spotlights.
Singer, agent and Commere Jane Tracie was very much in charge of the tone and presentation of this new date in the talent show calendar. Accompanied on stage by The Melissa Radway dancers, Jane Tracie and her opening Queen routine provided sharp focus for a naturally partisan, yet attentive full house audience. I must declare an interest in the Melissa Radway School as my own grand-daughter Megan is a student there. However, being only four years old, she did not perform on the night.
The opening performer on stage was singer Sky Adams, who has clearly benefitted hugely from well qualified advice in presentation and stage movement since I saw her last. Tall, striking and immaculately turned out, Miss Adams looked good from her ringlet hair to her proper stage tights and killer heels. Vocally there is light and shade here and lots of promise for the future.
Imagine a singing Audrey Hepburn in a scarlet gown and striding around in bovver boots and there you may picture the image of Saffron. In my view this petite singer, with an accurately well pitched voice, selected a set of songs which didn’t really suit her voice. We have seen sweet-voiced stars with a ballsy image before, such as Cyndi Lauper for instance. However remembering a certain Morecambe and Wise sketch involving Shirley Bassey is probably not the image that young Saffron was trying to conjure up.
Comedy magician Thomas Anthony made a great impression, with the look of a holiday park entertainer who is developing into a fully fledged cabaret artiste. There was some lovely palming to enjoy here and a quirky, off-beat style to go with the hand skills too. A succession of sight gags, some more familiar than others, created a great overall impression.
Singer Joe Thomas really took my eye as a potential professional entertainer. Young Thomas, just sweet sixteen, reminded me of what London star Robert Bastian or the late and great singer Paul Symons would have looked and performed like at this tender age. Obvious improvements would include a well cut stage suit and a set list which reflected the infectiously camp and OTT side of his stage personality.
The man who taught me so much about the art of critique was former Editor of The Stage, the late Peter Hepple. Peter often commented on how the girl singer second from the end of the bill so frequently emerged victorious in talent show finals he attended. This was again the case here as the eventual winner Nicola Scally was the penultimate act on the bill. Reminding me for some reason of my great friend and West End star Jodie Prenger, Nicola Scally looked a million dollars in a drop-dead gorgeous pastel shaded gown. Songs by Emilie Sande and Tina Turner were belted out, revealing a virtually limitless vocal range. In this sexist business of ours they say that ladies of a certain dress size have to possess ‘a personality’. Miss Scally spends little time on self-effacing chat. Instead she merely asks you to listen to her wonderful singing voice.
Closing the show out was Marlie Lewis, who was clearly delighted to be performing in her own home town. Seventeen year old Miss Lewis gave us songs by Sade Edu and Alicia Keys. In my view this fledgling talent will benefit hugely from an extra prize, which she was chosen to receive on the night by a performing arts school. Vocal technique lessons and tuition in diaphragm use could provide the impetus for this outstandingly talented teen to make progress.
In the event Nicola Scally walked away with the £1000 first prize, with Marlie Lewis in the runner-up slot and back in third was Thomas Anthony.
The crowded talent show sector, in my view tainted with the whole X-Factor circus and its sheer exploitative approach, is pretty crowded right now. This event deserves huge merit for trying to do it right by presenting and being influenced by traditional show business values. Well done to all involved.
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