Grosvenor Hotel Pulford near Chester
January 13th 2016
Producers Gary Hearne, Matt Roberts& Gordon Milton.
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
After an unforeseen reviewing hiatus last year, I was personally delighted to attend this event, staged as ever in a splendid venue. I was abroad last year during this annual hot showcase date and my deputy was unable to attend. Therefore I was delighted to see that my old friend, producer Gary Hearne was at the helm. Things in Chester always seem pretty promising at this annual cabaret jamboree and compere Gary T Davies was soon out, armed with the gags and the bonhomie, welcoming one and all.
First out on the showcase trail was Wigan based singer Ricky B. Despite the truncated stage surname, this well-presented and dapper chap has an unfussy style, which asks little of his own voice, in terms of vocal range. In short this was a nice set from a Steady-Eddie type of performer.
Comedy magician Simon Hannah (AKA the man in the red suit) looks as though he was pitching towards venues, in which ‘squeaky-clean’ is a must. This really wasn’t Hannah’s night! The first of his choice of audience participation subjects couldn’t walk and the second was partially sighted. The final gentlemen seemed to feel the desire to hold a sustained conversation during Hannah’s act. The hapless Mr Hannah seemed ill-equipped to deal with the cards he had been dealt.
Ravishing Welsh songstress Sioned Terry would be no good for an audience who don’t know their aria from their elbow. Opening in operatic style with a slice of Carmen and continuing with a bit of Gershwin, Miss Terry made a compellingly tuneful pitch for better class cabaret work.
Michael White and his Mongolian partner and soon to be wife Hulan claim to be the only magic, illusion and contortionist act in the world. The skills are performed in quick and slick mode and Mr White has amazingly dextrous hands for card-sharping. In the top drawer of speciality acts, this is obviously a cruise attraction, but I’m sure there is also work aplenty on dry land too for this stand-out attraction.
I have seen and enjoyed soulful and stunningly beautiful singer Sharn Adela at a variety of showcases recently. This glitzy singing star is a wee-bit full throttle in vocal terms. In addition, whilst wearing such a stunning gown, surely a pair of stage tights shouldn’t be out of the question.
Andy Bayley is a young swing singer, who is both immaculately turned out and tuneful, pretty much in equal measure. Suitable in the main as a wedding singer or for hotel cabaret work, Mr Bayley is clearly putting himself out there and in terms of trawling for all kinds of work, he makes a pretty compelling pitch.
Closing the first half out was tribute singer Joey Linden, who was performing his take on the legend that is Freddie Mercury. Mr Linden’s agent tells me the work diary for this particular Freddie is doing incredible business and, despite one or two sound problems on the night here, I’m sure the business will continue.
During the interval, there was an opportunity for bookers to mix and mingle with the talent on show. This aspect of the Bridson approach puts me in mind of the late and great Tony West showcase events and their social networking opportunities many moons ago. But it was soon back to the showcase trail.
Page 15 Compere Gary T Davies was soon out and enticing everyone back into the room for more cabaret and a duo with a difference called Incahoots kicked off the second half of the evening.
At first glance Incahoots appear to be a keyboard and vocal lounge act, but Chris Lloyd and Lucy Rice who make up the act, provide a refreshing new slant to modern cabaret. Covering a Victoria Wood ditty, about ‘the physical act of love-making’, the much loved Ballad of Barry and Freda, was as welcome as it was hilarious. The rest of the Incahoots act is quirkily presented and superbly delivered.
Adrian James resembles a refugee from the live band scene, who is taking an ill-advised stab in the solo market. Attempting songs from musical greats such as Al Green, The Temptations and Lionel Richie would have been an ambitious set-list, if chosen by one of today’s great covers singers. I’m afraid I really must skip straight on to next act, for fear of appearing to be unnecessarily destructive with my review.
I have been waiting eagerly to see celebrated Blackpool double act Bosom Buddies. I have heard much hype and praise from various people, who know what they are talking about within the industry about this act. ‘Brenda and Bernadette’, are of course blokes and this is musical comedy drag at its best. An Abba cover was performed in harmony and entirely straight (to coin a phrase). However I hear this act are equally adept at adult comedy. In short, a real treat!
Fledgling singer Olivia Garcia delivered a well thought out and segued showcase set, containing a number of different styles from the power ballad field. At just 16 years old, young Olivia’s vocal development is pretty vital, as it must continue to marry with her physical development. A qualified (and a do stress QUALIFIED) vocal technique teacher, is simply a must for this remarkable young performer, who appears to be nothing short of an amazing prospect. I’m sure, given Olivia’s background, the grounding will already be in place.
Visual magic and comedy entertainer Andrew Green arrived armed with a glamorous assistant by the name of Charlotte, some nifty magic sight gags and one or two pretty impressive larger-scale illusions. A thoughtfully recorded soundtrack and some impressive presentational skills combined, to delight the late-night audience, during what was truly a stand-out performance from an outstanding entertainer.
I would venture to suggest that Junior Parker is a band musician of many years standing. In fact, more of a show business senior, who is taking a stab at the solo market. There was even a nifty bit of harmonica thrown in during a great arrangement of Harry Nilsson’s classic Everybody’s Talking at Me. Mr Parker provides a real treat for muso-types.
Kate Bell as Cilla Black is said to be doing great business, in the wake of the tragic shock of Cilla’s premature death. Miss Bell performs an entire show called 60’s Diva’s and I could hear elements of Lulu and Dusty Springfield within her ‘Cilla Voice’. The impression is played dead-straight and this act is a sure-fire winner.
Closing the entire event out was The Blue Barrons, a Bavarian style Oompah-band, who took an age to set up on stage. Now this is the act to start the party! Company functions and all manner of private functions would undoubtedly benefit from their noisy and boisterous musical presence. Surely much business here I would have thought.
As ever with a Paul Bridson showcase there was much to enjoy, as well as appeal across the fee ranges of his clients. The venue is top notch and Mr Bridson’s supporters were, as ever, extremely well catered for.