Trevor George Entertainments Major Live Event session 3 review at Beverley Parks Paignton
The final session of this year’s annual showcase couldn’t have opened with any more drama, The High Seas pirate-themed attraction mixes magic, illusion and dance with energy, fun and visual excitement, incorporating pirate pyrotechnics, sword fighting and general mayhem. It’s the creation of illusionist Eloise Bradbury, an experienced entertainments manager, and especially for any youngsters, this act provides a treasure chest full of entertainment. When you see Paul Eastwood‘s name down as compere, you just know any showcase is in safe hands, being guaranteed plenty of giggles in-between the acts. His material can be abrasive at times, especially when audiences don’t play ball, but there’s always an edge to his comedy and I wouldn’t swap that for any of the run of the mill, bland comperes on the circuit.
Based in Worcestershire, duo Lady & The Sax is certainly out of the ordinary. Bursting on stage in a vivid red and very baggy suit, tenor and alto sax player Sam Pagett is a charismatic musician, and is complemented by female vocalist Laura. A distinctive cover version of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love was unexpected, highly entertaining and probably just a glimpse of their true talents.
When technical hitches plague a performer at a showcase it can prove terminal. But, as magician Steve Price‘s headset went awry, he just carries on, chips in a few barbed comments and came sailing through the experience, urged on by the audience. Secretary of the Magic Circle, he is clearly a highly accomplished magician, and his routine, despite the sound problems, was intriguing, entertaining and a lesson in determination.
Evidently, male vocalist Graham Davies, has two sides to his singing persona – one as a vocalist in his own right doing covers, the other as Gary Barlow and part of Take That tribute, Beautiful World. On this evidence, I prefer him in Barlow mode, a guise that appears to raise both his voice and performance up a level and out of slightly mundane covers territory.
During the many times I’ve seen Steve Arnold perform, I’ve never seen him make a single error during his high-energy, visually creative juggling routine. He made a couple here though, and given his high standards it’s something I’m sure he was furious with himself about after. But, on each occasion, he quickly recovered and it was never likely to detract from this very appreciative audience’s enjoyment.
An act in his own right, and co-compere for this session, Danny Posthill has the advantage of not just being a joke teller, but also an able impressionist. Like just about every other impressionist out there, his skits on celebrities past and present are very hit and miss, but there’s a character for everyone to tap into ranging from Alan Carr and John Bishop, through to Michael McIntyre. His material isn’t brilliant, but you have to admire any male comedian who tackles an impression of Sarah Millican, one that was pretty good.
Having performed in the afternoon as a tribute to Olly Murs, Swansea-based vocalist Karl Lewis gave a second showcase appearance a few hours later, once again showing his singing competence and versatility.
New, bespoke ultra violet puppet show Pure Imagination, promises that it ‘will leave yourself wondering what just happened.’ And, that was unfortunately the case when a power cut left a drum-playing green and black skeleton in the dark and without any soundtrack. That wasn’t this act’s fault, of course, but it did put a dampener on the routine and overall the characters didn’t grab the imagination nearly enough, the colours were a little insipid and the score a bit rambling. You have to applaud the creative effort behind this act though.
Multi-faceted vocal entertainer Max Hutton has got the arrogant strut, replica appearance and confidence to be a top Robbie Williams tribute, plus he apparently also tunes his vocal chords to Michael Buble. When he does strip away all the characters, he’s clearly also a very capable singer in his own right as his cover of Wham’s I’m Your Man illustrates. Often, male tributes lack the necessary charisma to convince – Hutton has it.
Acts trying to do something different deserve plaudits, and comedy entertainer Tony Mack (aka Anthony Maddocks), sporting an electric blue suit, was at least attempting to pull off something a little out of the ordinary. It’s a shame then that after this performance, the jury is still out as to whether his set, which includes his secret musings made audible while playing the keyboards, actually works. It’s really the classic case of a great idea, let down by a weak script, the same being true of his lyrical skit finale.
I imagine main comperes Eastwood and Posthill looked totally bemused as they watched their roles being substituted for the rest of this session by two puppet characters from furry ensemble The Rascals. This kind of chatty, childish banter is probably fine for afternoon audiences, but coming late in the evening in front of an adult audience, just proved increasingly irritating at each subsequent appearance.
Like Mack Vox Magique is attempting something different, in this case blending magic (Tim Osler) with female vocals (Faye Smith). She’s not the strongest singer around, judging by this performance, but her delivery does gel well enough to make this an interesting vocal and visual combination. In truth, the illusions executed are not new, but this act nevertheless conjures up some very stylish entertainment. At the very least, it’s original.
Lots of acts struggle to balance just right – acrobat duo The Swampets (Maya Peters and Liam Jones), is a stunningly sure-footed and inch-perfect during its outrageous, nicely crafted routine. The presentation is very was low-key, but that helps ensure there are no distractions from their superb, combined physical flexibility and excellence. The only thing that needs work is maybe the name – you really don’t expect acrobats when they are announced.
It was now time to see a reprise of Matthew Shaw‘s performance from the previous session.
I saw classical female vocal duo La Voci perform at a recent showcase, and this very similar set was just confirmation as to how strong each one’s voice is, and how well they complement one another on stage. I’d take issue with their appearance, as I did previously, but maybe they just dress down for showcases. Some clients will certainly expect a bit more effort.
Any guitar duo that can breathe fresh life in Dire Straits’ Sultans Of Swing, gets my vote and Fast Company (Rhodri Williams and Leon Kemp) certainly achieves that. As the showcase’s final act, this could and should have been a bit longer, especially given the quality of musicianship. Apparently, this act is working on a Bruce Springsteen tribute and on this evidence that will be well worth seeing.
Even if hadn’t quite matched the previous evening, there was still plenty of talent to admire during this session. Opening act, Lady & The Sax, certainly offers something different as far as duos go, as does Vox Magique. Plus, an award for carrying on regardless surely goes to magician and consummate professional, Steve Price.
Beverley Parks, Paignton, November 20
- Running time
- 3hrs 30mins
- Acts appearing
- The High Seas, Paul Eastwood, Lady &The Sax, Steve Price, Graham Davies, Steve Arnold, Danny Posthill, Karl Lewis, Pure Imagination, Max Hutton, Tony Mack, Vox Magique, Matthew Shaw, La Voci, Fast Company
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