Sunday, September 19

Vintage Variety

- September 6, 2021

Who said variety is dead? Well a group of performers breathed life back into it on a warm September Friday in Eastbourne for sure in an evening of fun and music. Vintage are actually a small group of singers, two gentlemen with the addition of the sassy Rita Bix, a cereal drag artist! On this occasion they were  joined by a group of friends and the whole held together by Eastbourne legend Cliff Bendall whose pearly smile and pearly grey suit and a string of cheesy gags certainly evoked a sense of a bygone age of good clean entertainment.

And this was an evening of good clean entertainment with barely a hint of smut or bad language – and it was all the better for that in an age when so many performers work from a base of rudeness in all its many forms.

I guess the closest that we got to a knuckle was the saucy humour of Ms Rita Bix, a lady (?) of a certain age, but most of that was eclipsed by a series of utterly outrageous costumes that has surely left this south coast seaside resort with a sequin and lurex crisis, special supplies will have to be flown in from nearby Brighton.

For the most part the entertainment centred around show tunes, Spamelot, Chicago, Evita, Les Miserables… the list like the show goes on – and for the most part goes on well. Okay there were a couple of moments that didn’t quite work but when it did work this was good stuff.

And there were highlights too, Rebecca Bruce brought a tear to the eye with an excellent monologue that she totally nailed, Michael Shepherd and David Watts shone for Me And My Shadow, Jade Powers lived up to her name with a full on rendering of With One Look and Lavinia Salisbury’s Don’t Cry For Me Argentina had a real sense of imperious power.

But the best was yet to come. Wayne Newton in the first half gave us Cry Me A River but came back in part two to give a really impressive performance of All I Need Is The Girl from Gypsy complete with a very impressive tap routine that I suspect no one was expecting and one that certainly brought the house down.

If I had one criticism it would be that when this ensemble tackled lesser known numbers the impact was far greater than for the more familiar songs where audience expectations are higher, based on popular and well known performances. But none-the-less this was a fun evening strung together by the “common” thread of a traditional drag performance from Jack Harris as Rita who belted out number after number and really made us smile.

Andrew Kay

Vintage Variety

3 September

The Grove Theatre, Eastbourne

Rating: ★★★½☆

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