Produced in association with The Showzam festival of circus and performing arts in Blackpool, Variety Live really was great fun.
Las Vegas headliners Jeff Hobson and Wally Eastwood were the star attractions. Hobson, a sort of camp comedy magician, possesses the kind of slick performance skills, hilarious asides and one-liners and the sheer razzle dazzle to impress any audience. Eastwood is a fast-handed juggler and comedian, whose party piece seems to be the ability to bounce tennis balls on a keyboard to create classical music. Both performers are surely amongst the sharpest seen in Blackpool for many a year and if only the great promotional tool of television would have been available to promote their short UK visit, the public would surely have been queuing around the block. However, with television as ever preoccupied with finding Paris Hilton a new best friend and other seemingly more pressing light entertainment events to showcase, it was up to the organisers to spread the word.
Bonny young singer Ben Stone was the only UK-based representative on the bill, while the amazing Wolfgang (of Cirque Du Soleil fame) performing miracles on the Rhonrad German Wheel and the amazing Mozeppo Cossacks also caught the eye. Comedy juggler and magic act Charlie Frye and Co acknowledge America’s rich vaudeville tradition with their stunningly presented skills. Frye is a rubber-faced clown of a performer, while his other half Sherry managed to look comically bored with the entire proceedings. New York-based Rob Torres is the kind of Mr Bean meets Chico Marx type silent clown who can turn a puzzled audience member’s face into one which is stricken with mirth in a matter of moments.
Great to see Ian McGregor leading a big live orchestra and hopefully the ghost of variety past may have been watching and nodding in approval at this most famous of Matcham houses.
Grand Theatre, Blackpool, February 19-21
- Producer and Director
- Paul Stone
- Cast includes
- Jeff Hobson, Wally Eastwood, Ben Stone, Mozeppo Cossacks, Wolfgang, Rob Torres, Charlie Frye and Co, Ian McGregor and The Variety Live Orchestra
- Running time
- 2 hrs