Thwaites Empire Theatre Blackburn
October 27th 2016
Producer- Andrew Oldham& Robin Colville
Cast includes: The Grumbleweeds, Zooka and Suzy Q, Lisa Kelsey & The Flip-Flop dancers
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
The first night for a two-hour touring show, which heralded the return of an act with a huge name and an illustrious past, the Grumbleweeds. When I first saw this act, they were a five-handed comedy show-band. By the nineties the act had become three in number, until two of the original members, Graham Walker and Robin Colville transformed the act into a comedy duo. With the brilliant and much-loved Graham Walker now sadly no longer with us, it was up to Robin Colville to find a new Grumbleweed. James Brandon proved to the man for the job and this show has found a promoter and a terrific platform for a pitch at summer season and general touring work.
The dynamic of the act has gone volte-face, with Colville inventing a kind of scruffy old man character and Brandon providing the comedy feed. The mode of production means that the other acts, in effect, are providing ‘fills’, which enable Colville and Brandon to prepare for their next spot of comedy madness.
Pencil-slim singer Lisa Kelsey arrives glitzily dressed and hits all the high notes. Ms Kelsey also combines well with Brandon during a spot of comedy distraction by Colville.
Zooka and Suzy Q are a top-drawer speciality magic act with a quirky delivery and their clever insertion into this production adds pace and direction.
The four-handed Flip-Flop dancers look well-drilled and costumed and look thoroughly rehearsed, interacting well in particular with Ms Kelsey.
This show is just crying out for one of the remaining summer seaside show venues to come along and do the business, in order to get The Grumbleweeds Laughter Show on in their resort next summer. Although the cast work to tracks, with no band in the pit, in every other respect the show is traditional variety.
In order to introduce a new generation to variety, this is the type of 21st century, show in a box style attraction that could just appeal to kids and adults alike.