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Showcall Showcase II – Wednesday, Evening Session review at Park Hall Charnock Richard

So Glad You Made It, sang Mikey Watson and the Showcall band, as a healthy number of bookers wended their way into the room for the final fling of Showcall II. Compere Tufty Gordon was his usual friendly and efficient self, and things got underway with the appearance of a massive eight-piece band called Detroit Soul. This looked like an accomplished group of session musicians who are looking to score as a function/cabaret band. Various soul hits like Get Ready and Young Hearts Run Free were trotted out in segue style and there should be plenty of work around for this impressive band, especially given their funky and expressive female vocalist.

A diminutive blonde singer known as Char came next, and it should be pointed out that this young lady is a very impressive and natural singer. Despite the fact that she spent much of the set wrestling with her stagewear, Char managed to deflect attention from this with her sheer talent. The talking down of the applause indicates either a nervous newcomer or a band or duo singer. I suspect that Char comes from the latter, as she look pretty experienced and is probably well used to club work. A creditable performance from a promising act.

Singer and entertainer Mitchell Armstrong comes across as a performer from the land of musical theatre, but I know that he is also extremely busy as a cabaret entertainer. Armstrong knows the score on the big stage and his natural approach and rich and well pitched singing voice will have reminded many of the bookers of exactly what he has to offer.

Singer and dancer Nicola Marie presented the Gloria Estefan section of Taste of Tributes package show. One of the so-called genre tributes, which are ostensibly mini production shows, the four female dancers and their energetic and gifted principal are certainly going to be in huge demand in the hotel tribute market.

A huge hit on the night was the ever brilliant entertainer Peter La Scalla, who I have seen and enjoyed before. Here we have a sort of comedy tenor. La Scalla is a quite brilliant vocalist, but he is equally gifted as a comedian, and his well thought out routines are a real tonic for those who bemoan the lack of comedy vocal acts out there. La Scalla is outstanding in this field and he is a must for the growing hotel cabaret sector. A patriotic Union Jack waistcoat and cloak was augmented by a bit of late night flag waving, which will work best in front of more mature audiences, and La Scalla left the stage with applause ringing in his ears.

Pencil-slim Scottish singer Diane Barry is apparently travelling down to England and trawling the showcase scene at the moment. Barry is a superior vocalist who knows how to dress for the stage. Walking On Sunshine and the Diana Ross hit When You Tell Me That You Love Me were included in a well delivered set in which her nicely pitched and distinctive voice should have been noted my many.

John Garland’s Puppets are a top-quality attraction for both the young and the young at heart. Garland is an expert puppet master who designs his marionettes and creates something rather special for schools, play groups, hotels and family holiday centres. After 26 years in the business, Garland presents between 40 and 50 puppets and I’m pretty sure that this expert will have made many friends at Showcall.

The Inflations are two singer/musician/comedians who, after a good strong musical opening, gave us Elvis in an inflatable suit and a sketch involving a backing singer flanked by what appeared to be two blow-up sex dolls in dresses. I know that this act have a good reputation, but the problem was their crowbarring everything into a short set. Instead, they surely need to establish their comedic credentials with some fast-flowing comedy one-liners in order to set the sketch comedy up.

Ray C is a quite stunning soundalike tribute act to the great Sammy Davis Jnr. Aided by some nifty make-up, Ray C also manages to achieve a lookalike status, but it is the remarkable voice which is the key. The question is, of course, will 2007 audiences within the tribute market be aware of Sammy Davis Jnr? I do hope so as, for people of a certain age, this guy can provide a quite wonderful cabaret performance.

Every Showcall Showcase needs an Elvis and ours came in the shape of Steve Caprice. This member of the tribute fraternity is highly marketable, but there is a real twist as Caprice turns out to be a church minister, who informed us that not only can he marry a couple, he can also provide the entertainment at the reception. This rocking rev will have made many friends with his humorous approach to the task and, given his day job, it should not come as a surprise to know that he is also available with a gospel choir.

Due to yet more drop-outs, and a rehearsal injury on the day of the show to one member of the speciality act Phoenix, this final Showcall session was a rather truncated one. Bringing proceedings to a close was an act known as Sounds of the Drifters. Given the recent well publicised furore over the name of the Drifters, it’s is perhaps a good idea to underline what should be quite obvious to start with, that this is a Drifters tribute act. The market seems flooded with all manner of Drifters tribute acts and I’m sure that this one too will find its place, due to the steep public demand for this type of act.

So, that’s it, at least until we all meet up in November for more of the biggest and the best. Tufty Gordon did the business and John Hopcroft and his team at Stagecore pulled the strings in their usual admirable fashion.

EXPERT CHOICE

Les Bather from Non-Stop Entertainment chose Ray C and Peter La Scalla.

Mark Ritchie

Production Information

Park Hall, Charnock Richard, February 14

Website
www.showcall.co.uk

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