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REVIEW FROM CLUBMAN'S GUIDE
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Thursday 11th August 2011 ISSUE 1257

Stars in Our Eyes Charity Event for Help the Heroes

 The Crown Inn, Ludwell Hill, Barnburgh, Doncaster DN5 7EE

Review by Sal Hopkinson – The West Yorkshire Onlooker

 It was a scorching hot sunny afternoon when I and my friend Caz accompanied one of the Stars in Our Eyes cast – Becky - to the marquee at the back of the Crown Inn – or Billy Smarts Tent as it was later referred to. Members of the Stars in Our Eyes team are volunteers giving up their spare time for mid-week rehearsals and weekend shows. There is also lots of additional work involved in organising publicity, getting bookings, maintaining equipment, preparing and dismantling the stage set and keeping their stunning, true to life costumes in pristine condition.

 

Some members of the crew had been there since early morning, rigging up the stage, lighting and sound gear. The set up was somewhat smaller than usual due to space restrictions but it was no less impressive. The tables for paying guests were set up by the Crown Inn team a-la-wedding style around the room and the family and friends of the Stars in Our Eyes cast were gathered in one corner. The supporting entourage is made up of all ages from 8 years old upwards.

 

On this occasion the Stars in Our Eyes cast and crew were working with the team of the Crown Inn to raise money for the charity ‘Help for Heroes’ www.helpforheroes.org.uk. All week the pub had been holding events and had raised approximately 3,700. By the end of the night, that total had gone up to approximately 4,300 - well on target for the 5,000 that the Crown Inn were hoping to raise. Guests had paid only 5 for what transpired to be approximately 3 hours live entertainment. Included in the ticket price was a delicious hog roast or pie and pea supper.

 

As the stars that were first up to do a spot got ready, some of the others were happy to chat to me. Meeting some of the cast and crew was very entertaining – to see their usual personas later transformed into stars on the stage. They were happy to tell stories of previous performances – miss haps and funnies. For example, the time a new cast member had a little too much Dutch courage and whilst dancing off stage during one of the others spots, she fell over and twisted her ankle. Thankfully she had imbibed enough ‘anaesthetic’ to numb the pain and so her second spot went ok without any hobbling!

 

I happened to bump into Yvonne before the performance. I had heard about her performances as Cher and wanted to know more but she had been flying about all over the place trying to ensure that all the costumes were where they should be, all the back stage ‘stuff’ was organised and ready. She took 5 minutes out to talk to me about how important that night’s charity – Help for Heroes – is to her. Her son-in-law is a Marine and he is overseas on duty now, and has already lost a lot of friends during the conflict. Now, that conversation added extra insight into the first song performed that night – Yvonne and Jud sung ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables, and I’m not ashamed to say, it had me in tears.

 

Having lulled the audience into a false sense of calm and security, Jud – performer and our very witty MC for the evening – unleashed Mad Mike onto the stage (and into the audience). By day Mike is a sensible, calm and caring chap who teaches autistic children. By night however he transforms into… a total nutter! His first spot was as Noddy Holder. As I was sitting right by the speakers, I certainly got the full audio and visual impact of his performance and it was certainly not restricted by the smaller than usual stage – he was leaping on and off speakers, hanging from the poles supporting the marquee and dashing about amongst the audience. In one of his later spots as Alice Cooper, I looked over to a woman behind me and as Mike, err sorry – Alice, launched himself across the table to her, she looked terrified! All I can say is – compliments to the performer for achieving such a stunning audience reaction!

 

Mad Mike reappeared several times during the evening and on one occasion with a special guest star – Jason the Crown Inn landlord. Jason had never performed on stage before, but it didn’t seem to hold him back! They performed a superb rendition of ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’, complete with fiddle playing. Perhaps he will be a new recruit to the cast in future?

 

Freddie Mercury was wandering about all evening. The stars sit in and amongst the audience when not performing and as Freddie (aka Steve) also helps with the lighting and sound, he was visible for most of the evening. His daughter, wife and nephew were there too to cheer him. Only thing with Steve is – though apparently he can actually sing, he cannot sing like Freddie. So he is the only member of the cast who actually mimes to Freddie’s dulcet tones. Now at first this may seem a little disappointing, but when you see him, the moustache, the costumes and the amount of effort and sheer hard work that he puts into his performances, you forgive the odd slip at lip syncing.

 

Becky is the newest member of the cast and performed two spots – one as Connie Francis and one as Doris Day. At no point did she appear nervous, despite her inexperience. In fact she radiated enthusiasm during both performances, always smiling, engaging with the audience and full of energy. She also danced her socks off during one of those awkward instrumental breaks that crop up in songs from time to time.

 

The King himself was in the building (well, the marquee anyway). Mr Elvis Aaron Presley (aka Terry), showed off all of the King’s best moves including his famous hip thrusts. Not bad going for a 16 year old lad who had also just become the proud father of baby girl.

 

Beth appeared as several personas throughout the night, singing some classics which we all know and love. Her performances prompted several people to get up and dance which is encouraged throughout the show. She was all the more impressive as she is only 14 years old and has an extremely strong voice, which left me wondering what she will be capable of as her voice continues to mature in years to come.

 

My favourite Naomi persona was as Dolly Parton – fantastic blue country and western style costume and she sang ‘9 to 5’ word perfect. This is a very fast song and the words often get bunched up together or totally missed out, but not by “our Naomi” as Jud called her. I was quietly (thankfully) singing along with her every word.

 

Paul performed several spots and took some stick (in jest) from Jud regarding the wig he wore to transform into his alternate personas. I should explain that normally Paul has not a single hair on his head. Having sat with him for most of the evening, it took me a few moments to realise who the man in the wig was!

 

Other than myself – in my role as the West Yorkshire Observer - there was another member of the audience who was there to record the evening for posterity. I think she said she was a reporter from the South Yorkshire Times. Unfortunately she didn’t stay until the very end and left just as Yvonne and Naomi did a fabulous Abba tribute which had all the audience up on their feet – including a woman who was somewhat overcome by a combination of alcohol, heat and excitement – her pole dancing moves raised a lot of eyebrows and a few sniggers, but she was only having fun in the name of raising money for charity – where was the harm? Jud also did an encore to round off the evening.

 

I want to tell you so much more about the individuals involved, their stage personas and what the acts involve – but I don’t want to spoil the surprises that kept popping up (sometimes literally) throughout the night. So why not treat yourself to an excellent night of live entertainment – and raise money for charity at the same time? Get yourself off to one of the Stars in Our Eyes evenings and see for yourself how entertaining this group of hardworking volunteers can be. For details about upcoming shows, the cast and the stars featured please visit http://starsinoureyes.tripod.com

To Book the Stars in Our Eyes Charity Roadshow telephone 01709 869734