Westcliffe, Southend on Sea
September 28-30 inclusive
Producer Maria Johnson
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
After a patchy response from bookers and potential attendees to the first ever Curtains Up event, which UK Cabaret covered last year at the famous Purfleet Circus Tavern, it was on to sunny Southend on sea. Thankfully, the bookers turned out in force this time around and all seemed set fair, as a sizeable audience gathered for the first evening session in this purpose-built casino setting.
With the industrious Maria Johnson at the helm and business-like, no nonsense compere Richard Grey in charge of the interviews and introductions, things seemed extremely promising.
The Boogie Belles are an immaculately turned out trio of beautifully dressed close-harmony singers. These ladies proved just as carefully and thoughtfully prepared as they were tuneful.
Singer Carol Ann presented her Cher tribute show but, in my view, a combination of fade-out tracks and other difficulties may well impede her progress.
Three boy harmony act The Basetones have created a more than favourable impression before on previous viewings. The lads were in equally fine and slick fettle during their Southend outing.
A blonde vision in hooker-boots, namely singer Shanna Taylor, looked pretty glum and serious. Perhaps fronting a band could be a great option for this lady.
Antonio Zip AKA Thomas Anthony, performs silent comedy, with the throbbing strains of the William Tell Overture providing the theme. A mind-reading spoof and a series of sight-gags followed from this extremely promising, white pan-stick-faced comedy ideas man.
Singer Frankie Dean gave us a solo Frankie Valli & Four Seasons tribute, which may just be extremely appealing for the budget conscious. In the guise of Delvis Elvis, Dean also offers a tongue in cheek alternative to Valli.
Caz Krelle is the memorable name of a distinctively dressed blonde keyboard player and singer. Picking up the guitar, Ms Krelle was equally eye-catching and tuneful. The impression given was that this was something fresh and different.
Hard-working, patter based comedy magician Stu Turner kept the gags coming thick and fast and the tricks were slick and well-honed. Turner gave a fun and natural performance, which should have won him many friends.
Replicating the voice of Dusty Springfield is a big ask. The Delightfully Dusty lead vocalist appeared with two female backing singers and the whole show should be a hit with nostalgia fans.
There are many out there taking a crack at a Jessie J tribute right now, but Just Jessie arrived on stage accompanied by two backing dancers and the pre-requisite sassiness. With vocal ability in abundance, this act is highly bookable.
Retuned is a two boy/two girl harmony act, who deliver a combination of harmonising in musical theatre territory and strong theatre style cabaret presentational skills. I would suggest however that the male members of this act need to focus on the stage wear department.
Closing out a high energy and highly enjoyable showcase session was a genre tribute band, Back to the 80’s. Live guitar, saxophone and keyboards here from a semi-live trio, who are sure to score heavily in the better areas of the function market.
Experts Choice: We chose a different booker from each of the five sessions to give their view on the two most marketable acts of the session.
Julie Butcher of Park Resorts chose The Basetones and Antonio Zip.