Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
Since winning a competition at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom at the ripe old age of 10, Allan Stewart has been a variety entertainer: from Sunday Night at the London Palladium to extensive cruise ship entertainment schedules, if anyone is qualified to stage a variety show, it’s Stewart. Still a strong vocal performer with a sharp wit, Stewart opens the show with “When You’re Smiling”, which, although not a particularly upbeat arrangement, showcases Stewart’s voice and humour as he changes lyrics, immediately getting the audience on-side.
Stewart is joined in this extravaganza by panto pals Andy Gray and Grant Stott and it’s clear from the outset why the trio works so well together. Gray’s facial expressions and Stott’s quick quips keep pace and energy up while also providing laugh-a-minute entertainment. Their Highland folk singer routine in particular, leaves the audience doubled over, gasping for breath.
Girl singing group The Tootsie Rollers provide variety, if not a particularly captivating performance. Their pop medley is entertaining for a younger audience, but it is less well received by the generally older audience (who would probably have been happier with “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”). Choreography could also be tightened and some girls were left behind under the swell of the live band. Nonetheless, as Stewart sweeps in to reprise his West End rôle of Al Jolson, all is forgiven.
Billed as the ‘local boy’, though hailing from Coatbridge, Edward Reid found fame with his alternative renditions of nursery rhymes on Britain’s Got Talent three years ago. Bounding onto the stage with an immediately likeable personality, his patter flows and he gives a solid, unabridged performance of the songs that made him famous. However, Reid has little more to offer; one would expect, for a variety show, a little more variety.
Joining the lineup is Paul Zerdin, a ventriloquist in high demand after a sellout Fringe run. Although a talented performer, Zerdin’s routine seems rather unsuited to this format of variety show, with moments of silence as the older patrons switched off. Although undoubtedly talented, Zerdin’s sets drag on, with a general feeling that the audience wanted to see more Allan Stewart and less puppets. Ultimately, as the show built to a climax, this is what they got.
After a touching rendition of “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, dedicated to his daughter, Stewart introduces the lady herself. At 19, Kate Stewart has already made her mark with a record deal and gigs throughout the UK. Her rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” is outstanding; note perfect and performed with the sass of a true star. Look out for big things for this young performer. Stewart then brought the evening to a close in a rib-tickling, if a little abrupt, finale.
Although Stewart’s mixture of variety may not hit the mark as much as the Glasgow Pavilion offered audiences for its 110th Anniversary Concert just a few days before, it nonetheless sizzles with razzmatazz and the audience are left more than suitably entertained. Not bad considering it was pulled together in 2 days – at least that’s what Stewart told us.
Reviewed on Wed 5th March runs until Sat 8th Mar 2014