Yorkshire’s master comedian Johnnie Casson wore his host and compere hat to present a cast of Equity luminaries, all gathering to support the City Varieties regeneration fund. Casson’s brilliance came in fits and starts as he filled in with the funnies and the bonhomie.
High spots included a delightfully assured adult comedy magic spot from John Danberry, a singalong set from actress Caroline Fields and a treat of an old style variety set from funny man and musician Kenny Barton. Danberry’s patter was a real treat while Barton, formerly one half of the almost legendary Clubland comedy duo The Barton Brothers, scored heavily with the props and the music. Equally impressive was speciality magic act Vizage (Sam and Vicki Lane), who have been semi-finalists on Britain’s Got Talent.
Swing singer Gary Grace, accompanied by his own quartet of female brass musicians The Sisters of Swing and a three piece band in the pit, led by musical director Andy Cholerton, might have been a better choice for the role of compere.
Political satire, among all the old style variety, was rather less successful, especially when presented by two women called The Chuffinells, whose colourful language didn’t really marry with the tone of the rest of the performance. However, an appearance from character comedienne Florence and the general enthusiasm of the audience made for a lovely evening in this most atmospheric of venues.