EVENT REVIEW – DESPERATELY SEEKING ALEX – THE GREEN ROOM – FRIDAY 15TH JANUARY 2010
I have helped organize shows and events before, from Humanist Meetings to pub quizzes. I have taken part in countless cabarets and poetry events. Nothing prepared me for the challenge of Desperately Seeking Alex, and I’m delighted to have been part of the wonderful team that put together this amazing event.
You can see the reasons for the event, and how it was planned here - http://arthurchappell.me.uk/event.report-desperately.seeking.alex.htm
This page focuses on the show itself.
As a steering committee member I arrived early, as did everyone else. We helped set up the stage, prepared the zine. Some singers and our burlesque dancers needed rehearsal time, sound checks, etc. Ian Wilson, who agreed to photograph the show at no cost (everyone took part for free), came to see the layout and stuck around. A lady helped by stapling together the loose pages of the zines. We set out the raffle prizes (over 40 of them) and the half dozen auction gifts, and the cakes made by Jackie Hagan & Cat Parsons were put out on the tables too. I felt nervous, more about the technical apparatus than any of the artistes.
As well as performing some poetry, I made sure everything was OK on the mezzanine floor where the burlesque was to be staged (due to limited space on the ground floor), and I found myself in charge of the sound system up there too, though I was able to get a volunteer from the audience, Lewis Shaw, to help by pressing a green button on cue when required. The audience upstairs had a great view of the main stage too.
I was also expected to perform a sponsored wiggle. This was something in keeping with Alex’s thinking. After one of my poetry readings he loudly told me off for not wiggling. It seems I had developed a tendency to wiggle my bum as I performed or took applause. It was only when Alex once noticed I wasn’t doing so that I realized I ever had. It was suggested in Committee that I do so even more to raise more money to support the Humphreys following their son’s dreadful disappearance. I drafted up a placard to hang round my neck for the wiggle, but as the audience arrived, I found myself helping sell the zines, so the main wigging session fell by the by though I did get to do some later in the night.
With Alex keen on classical music, a string quartet greeted the audience as they arrived, and we had magician, Alex D Fisher performing table top conjuring tricks for the audience up on the Mezzanine. The audience was too congested to have him do much downstairs too.
A bugler gave a fanfare to launch the main stage show. Andrea Wren introduced Alex’s brother who opened the show with a moving letter from Alex’s Mum, (in Miami at the time of the show), thanking everyone for their support and friendship for Alex)..
The main compeering fell to Andy Nicholson, and Jack Baker, dressed as a cowboy and a bunny rabbit respectively, and attacking each other with water pistols for much of the evening.
With various other duties, I sadly didn’t get to see every performer and item presented. We had open mic poets, musicians, burlesque performers from Faint Fascinations and comedy. It would be unfair to name some performers and leave others out of this review. What followed was an amazing night, a showcase of incredible talent, and generosity by many, including, if not especially our audience.
Initially the show had been planned out, as a poetry night with a few others acts set in to change the pace. What we had in the end was a very diverse cabaret and disco. There were great innovations – the bugle calls, and a true highlight, the minute’s riot. Sensing that the fun loving, mischievous Alex Humphrey would never appreciate a sombre minute’s silence, we invited everyone to spend a minute making as much nose as possible, and we truly raised the roof.
With the cabaret itself over, the raffle commenced. Alan Gray (previously known as Gordon Zola) & Jeff (Rama) Dawson took over the mics to host the proceedings, with many people taking away generous prizes ranging from tickets to shows, restaurant meals, autographed paintings, and books signed bye authors.
As if people hadn’t given enough already, the auction, with prizes including more art work, and highlighted by a stay at the Lowry Hotel raised even more money for the cause. A full statement of the final totals is due from the committee shortly.
The DSA Committee (in which I had a modest role) – Jack Baker, Jeff Dawson, Alan Gray, Andy Nicholson, Catherine Parsons, Harriet Whitehead and Andrea Wren.
Advice, support & good wishes received from Not Part Of, www.notpartof.org Opportunities to publicize our events received from Not Part Of New Year’s Eve, but sadly our event preceded their own in the end.
Write Out Loud http://www.writeoutloud.net/public/index.php who have drawn author’s attention to the zine and invited submissions. Thanks to everyone who sent working for the zine, with apologies to many submissions we couldn’t fit in.
CHARITY AUCTION & RAFFLE PRIZE SPONSORS INCLUDED
Bella Besame, of Slippery Belle Burlesque, 4 free tickets to one of her monthly shows. http://www.myspace.com/theslipperybelleburlesque For my reviews of Slippery Belle events see http://arthurchappell.me.uk/burlesque.contents.htm
Steve Garside – framed, signed artwork - examples on view at his online gallery - http://www.stevegarside.co.uk/gallery2-7.html
Sweet Mandarin Chinese Restaurant, Copparas St, Manchester http://www.sweetmandarin.com/ My review of a visit to Sweet Mandarin - http://arthurchappell.me.uk/manchester.food-sweet.mandarin.htm My review of the Sweet Mandarin book http://arthurchappell.me.uk/book.review-helen.tse-sweet.mandarin.htm
Geoff Ryman, Science fiction novelist, Paul Neads, artist, Atherton Thind, Chartered Financial Planers, Band On The Wall, Nairn’s & Lonely Planet Books, and too many more to mention.
Additional thanks to Lindsey Robinson, who helped in ticket and zine printing, all performers, singers, poets, burlesque dancers, magicians, the audience and the staff of the Green Room, especially Emma, for incredible support all round.
Without any of you and many more besides, the event would never have been possible.
Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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