Is Variety dead? National newspapers have reported that
it is certainly facing a crisis with one seaside pier, home
to Variety for over 100 years, being mothballed and
a well-known comedy duo axed in Blackpool.
But there was no evidence of the last rites being
administered at the Prince Edward Theatre, London
on Remembrance Sunday for the fourth Royal Masonic
Variety Show. Quite the contrary!
As well as established names like Jim Davidson, Roger
de Courcey and Bradley Walsh, the show focussed on some
exciting new talent. Peter Grant, 19, is making a name for
himself with his debut album, New Vintage, and is someone
we shall hear more from.
James Fox was first spotted in Fame Academy and has
since gone on to represent the UK in The Eurovision Song
Contest. Comedy was performed by Simon Evans, Allan
Stewart and Fatman and Tenor. Kelli from Liberty X
proved she can sing as a solo artiste as well as with a
chart-topping pop group.
Also taking part were Eloise Smith, Donna-Marie
Walton and members of Italia Conti, formed in 1911
and which has, over the years, produced some of our
most prolific performers. The show was introduced
by Dave Lee and Keith Skues and the musical director
was Trevor Brown.
The artistes played to a full house in the presence of
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent and the
Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton. The tightly knit
show was directed by Bonnie Lythgoe and produced by
Peter Elliott and Ray Donn. The organising committee
were Lord Northampton, David Calderhead, Charles Firth
and Greg Lunnon.
All the artistes taking part gave their services free.
The show was in aid of the Royal Masonic Benevolent
Institution, Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund
and Abandoned and Destitute Children’s Appeal Fund.
David Calderhead, Show committee chairman, said:
“This year’s Show was a resounding success, particularly
as it gave the opportunity for Freemasons and their partners
to enjoy themselves at a social event. A substantial amount
has been raised for charity.”
A two-hour radio programme was broadcast on the Keith
Skues Show on BBC Eastern Counties featuring some of the
artistes who took part.
Keith Skues is an author and broadcaster and
a member of Chelsea Lodge No. 3098