It occurred to me, waiting outside Venue 2 last night, that I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Vaudeville Spectacular and the confusing array of costumes parading by made me think I could’ve been at anything. Billed as a ‘late-night showcase’ whisking us away to the ‘seedy glamour of the 1920s nightclub cabaret’ Vaudeville Spectacular was keeping their acts quiet. Behind the mysterious doors, tables were set up as in an old school Berlin nightclub, complete with fake candles, flowers, waiters in bow-ties to bring you your drinks, and live piano.
Taking to the stage first, always the most scary, was a group of dancers clad in black, epitomising the Vaudeville style. They then startled the audience by whipping off their long black skirts to reveal sparkly hot-pants. The more sophisticated audience member may have felt this was tacky, but the performers were clearly having such fun, it was hard not to find the whole thing amusing. So it was that this set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The night delivered such a plethora of stage acts, there really is no way to sum them up. And at 15 separate acts, I won’t bother to list them all. However, I will give special mention to the most spectacular of the spectacular… Talking to audience members in the interval and at the end, the almost unanimous decision as to the best act was the decidedly un-Vaudeville comedian, Eleanor Morton. I was immediately thrilled to see a female comedian with such confidence, and absolutely delighted to discover she is brilliant. I really couldn’t rave about this girl enough. Her routine was well thought out, winning the audience from the outset, aided by her musical stylings on the piano. My particular favourite was her ‘I’m really good at the clubbing’ song at the end, intelligent, witty and a smash success with everyone in the audience. Remember her name!
Other performers of note were the Jazzle Sisters, a drag act that probably didn’t get the reception they deserved; Mimi von Schack, another comedian whose comedic style came naturally to her, though she seemed a little flustered; the swing dancers who had a number of performances and also made the audience their stage. Seriously, I left my seat for a minute during the interval and came back to some casual swing dance. These guys were unstoppable. The perpetual swing dancers; at the first beat of any song, they’d be up and swinging! Following Mimi’s performance was a delightfully calm musical duo, Kestutis and Ugne, who treated us to acoustic classics and a Lithuanian song about a bird finding love.
As with life, the best things, are the things that make you laugh. Which is why Blind Mirth became my second favourite act of the night. Their routine required audience participation to provide words/settings/movements that they would then play off. It would take the fun out of it, to explain their act here, but I will say their final bit was ‘I like my women/men like I like my…’ where the audience would again offer some assistance. The result was sometimes nonsensical, but always funny and it’s well worth checking out their regular Monday night shows at the Barron every week, which are also free. One final mention must go to poor Cameron Kirby, whose first appearance on stilts was a little odd. He towered over the audience, walking, jumping and kicking in his stilts… until he swung off the stage, knocked his head on the lights and had to literally crawl out of the room as he was politely played off by the piano. For coming out for his second performance (a silent film/mime routine) the guy deserves some commendation.
The crowd seemed mainly to be friends and family of performers, a little unsure of how to appreciate all the acts. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was friendly and cosy and the evening did indeed offer up some talent I never knew this small town had.