Equity North& West Yorkshire variety Branch annual show-time spectacular.
Jubilee club Leeds
August 11th 2017
Producer Ashley Wheelhouse & Valerie Mann
This annual date in the variety calendar is staged in the comfortable surroundings of the Jubilee club in Leeds. Agent and Compere Harry Turnstyle was soon out on stage, getting the ball rolling with a well turned song and some welcoming chat. Harry’s close agency pal Ashley Wheelhouse was in charge of the technical details and the opening guest act on the night was Johnnie Martell. A long=-established Clubland favourite, Mr Martell is no shrinking violent and most of the comedy patter revolves around his ample frame and subsequent sex appeal. The patter is interwoven with some well delivered songs and Mr Martell proved to be a great warm-up attraction for what was to come.
Singer Kirsten Young comes from the long tradition of great Clubland ladies, who know their business and just get on with the job. Plugging in and unplugging backing track sources doesn’t create the best possible mode of presentation. In truth, arranging for everyone’s tracks to be on the same lap-top, via memory stick or whatever, would aid this type of show immeasurably. However Ms Young delivers all the right songs and I would imagine work with continue to pour in for this highly accomplished singer.
Simon Young is the husband of the artiste who preceded him on stage and a belting version of the Queen hit, Somebody to Love provided his opening. I hear that Mr Young is a very busy man indeed, with many career irons in the fire. On the night in Leeds this expansive and natural entertainer certainly gave of his best, whilst displaying outstanding vocal ability. I would venture to suggest that there are some people who just belong on stage and Simon Young definitely fits into this category. An instinctive entertainer, Simon Young would look great fronting a live band. The material covered on the night was eclectic to say the very least. I don’t think I have seen too many singers, who move from Bon Jovi to Emile Ford without batting an eye-lid. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I would say that Mr Young is far too slim and handsome. I think it may be better for my ego if I don’t actually stand right next to him.
An interval came up trumps for this particular reviewer, as I managed to win first prize on the raffle. My win was good news/bad news time for yours truly. The good news was that the prize was a complete collection of pre-decimal coinage. The bad news was that I was doing paper rounds from the age of 10 and I used to collect the newspaper money in every Friday. I recognised all the coins instantly and found myself able to calculate what they were worth is todays values. It would be nice to be young enough not to be able to remember such things!
Singer Tony Fletcher was on hand to open the second half, as he was soon well stuck into a spot of CC Rider, whilst performing his tribute to Elvis Presley. Mr Fletcher takes costuming very seriously and I was relieved when he made it clear that his Tennessee drawl was not going to be maintained throughout the duration of his 30-minute set. Reverting quickly to his Yorkshire accent, Tony links many of the Presley hits and the audience toes continue to tap.
With the show running slightly over, it was finally top of the bill time as we prepared to meet comedian Tank Sherman. Most of the Yorkshire audience will not have seen Tank in comedy action before. Mr Sherman hails from glorious Devon and Yorkshire audiences will be far from familiar with his brand of West Country hokum. Mr Sherman’s material ranges from the downright daft to the outrageously daft. However, serious points such as the lack of television opportunities for mainstream entertainers and the allegations of laughter being dubbed onto comedy performances during the Live at the Apollo TV series, were thrown out here and there for the audience to digest. If ever a comedian has paid his dues and is deserving of television exposure it is Tank. The material is deliberately pitched as that of adult-themed, with without what we in Yorkshire refer to as ‘effing and jeffing’. Tank has comedy nous, which he proves time and time again as he manoeuvres his way around the minefield of instructions which exist these days, regarding what is permissible whilst performing comedy on-board cruise-ships. In short, Tank Sherman deserves a break. Such an opening seems unlikely in this day and age, as the bright young things who run telly these days continue to trawl to Edinburgh Fringe for the next big comedy thing. We can only hope that this irresistibly funny and engaging entertainer manages to make to next step upwards.
All of which was great news for Equity’s Valerie Mann and her colleagues, who must have been delighted with a fun evening, played out in front of an appreciative audience, comprised of Equity members and club people.