Sunday Night At…
NOT Sunday Night at the London Palladium! But Sunday Night at the Theatre Royal Brighton with all the glamour, glitz and talent associated with the London Theatre, along with the variety talent which had many switching on their TV sets in the 50’s and 60’s, but now making their way to Brighton for the same experience.
Opening the show and setting the standard was female impersonator Ceri Dupree with a tribute to Danny La Rue, returning periodically throughout the night as Marlene Dietrich, Shirley Bassey and Tina Turner, suitably dressed in amazing costumes with jokes and voices to match. But, Dupree’s best spot was opening the second half, as Dame Edna Everage, working the audience with the same cutting material often associated with this Australian housewife superstar, leaving the audience in stiches.
Rockinghorse Children’s charity
The evening was in aid of children’s charity Rockinghorse, with the show being put together by Rob Reaks and David Bell, both working hard to find the correct acts to make this two-hour extravaganza pure variety. Not easy in age where that form of entertainment has been forgotten but likes of Jan Hunt known by the more mature in the audience from BBC’s children’s ‘Crackerjack’ showed the same variety and skilled performance she did then but through music hall songs with old time patter. Yet this trip down memory lane was balanced by more modern singing sensations Eve Iglesias semi-finalist in Britain’s Got Talent, Jon Moses finalist on ITV’s Superstar, Jodie Jacobs West End fame and Allan Jay a Scottish vocalist all showing tremendous voices and ability to sell a song, particularly in the case of Iglesias. Enthusiastic Sam Callahan went one song to many. Nicki French a lovely girl represented the UK in the 2000 Eurovision song contest, choosing to remind us of the song she sang. I wish she hadn’t.
Big job for Compere
The show was compered by Hilary O’Neil, those that remember her in the 80’s as one of our countries leading female impressionists may have been disappointed as she attempted few impersonations apart from an excellent Joe Pasquale, but she showed a professionalism and temperament in keeping the show moving along with a nice routine, if a little corny at the beginning/end with a child going to bed and having a wonderful dream. That being the show. This little scene reminding everyone what we were supporting and what it means to many unfortunate children. Indeed, Peter Joannou ‘Brighton’s singing Barber’ did a fun little number written by himself in honour of the charity.
The Producers attempted to give new talent a go with young Ventriloquist Max Fulham, who showed much promise with his old man character, not yet Paul Zerdin, but on the way. The show had a heavy musical bias which was broken by Magician Mark Williams who did some, effective and impressive mind magic with four volunteers from the audience. John Styles entered the stage dressed as a Chelsea Pensioner only to regale us with an appropriate character monologue which got better and better as it went along.
Being Brighton, we had a highly entertaining dance routine from the Gay Men’s dance company dressed as Policemen which amused as well as entertained. But this nicely choreographed number would have made a stronger impact right at the front of the show or opening the second half, rather than lost in the middle.
The after-show party was well attended. The artistes drink in hand discussing the evening with the many sponsors who had helped make this such a successful fund-raising night for the producers and Rockinghorse Children’s charity.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.