Star rating: ****
Sunday 15th February 2015
The Hillingdon’s Hidden Talent 2015 contest was the latest in the series of talent shows that sought to unearth the best of Hillingdon’s undiscovered entertainer’s.
Such was its popularity the event was sold out. The audience and judges were treated to 18 local acts singing, dancing, cart wheeling and back flipping around the Compass Theatre stage.
Ironically, talented as many were, the show lacked a little variety. There were far too many solo singer-guitar playing acts for my liking. I see this as the Ed Sheeran effect. Most ranged from being OK to good, but it was simply too much of the same. It would have been nice to have seen a wider variety of acts – comedians, poets, bands, magicians for instance and a wider age group, with more adults on the line up. The age range was wide, from around 5 years old to 64 years old.
I especially enjoyed the young female dance trio called Passion Dance. They were very good, especially the lady who took centre stage in the trio. She was very precise and on point with all her moves. She never missed a step. The whole troupe were energetic, athletic and watchable. Their choice of music complemented their act well. They won a well deserved 1st place trophy in the Groups award category.
Youngsters The Flipping Tastics were, if you pardon the pun, quite literally flippin terrific. They looked about 5 and 8 years old. Sporting blue leotards they performed an acrobatic, gymnastic set that saw them doing cart wheels and back flips galore, plus spinning, lifting and rolling around the stage gleefully.
At the mature end of the spectrum we saw Jeff White, 64, who retires from his day job next year, but is looking to take up music as a post retirement sojourn playing music depending, he said, if the audience liked him or not. Well I for one enjoyed his set a lot. Jeff sang a song called ‘Flower Power’ about life working in a bakery, which was a nice cheeky song full of witty, good humour and poetry. His efforts earned him not only the rousing applause of the audience as a demonstration that he should continue playing into his retirement, but also earned him a trophy for 3rd place in the 18+ individual act category.
The biggest winner of the night was a real surprise. It was 16 year old Ethan Beer who won an amazing three awards – Best Individual Under 18, Overall Winner and Special Prize for the night. His prize for the latter will be to have a professionally produced show reel made by Talking Pictures Limited.
He was one of the signer-guitarist’s on the line up and sang very beautifully, but I am surprised he did so well as I would have scored him down for his opening and ending, which were too softly sung, so much so you could bearly hear him. Clearly the four judges, Prince Laryea, Sylvia Taylor, Lakesha Cammock and Hughie Dixon, saw something special in him to reward him with three 1st place trophies.
There were many fine performances but it would have been even better to have seen some more dynamic and adventurous songs performed.
Equally important, a lot more enthusiasm and emotion would not have gone amiss from many of them. After all, they have chosen to go on stage and perform, so they should make an effort to look like they are enjoying it and wish to entertain their audience. It all helps and if they hope to break through in the entertainment business and/or even make it on to one of the major TV talent shows then they will have to show a lot more passion and energy if they want to achieve such ambitions.
Many of the younger acts need to practice their interview skills. Far too many came across as extremely shy and nervous and didn’t say much. I know they were very young and it’s incredibly nerve racking to go and perform on stage, but I would think this is something they could practice at home e.g. with a parent, friend or sibling asking them interview questions. After all this is their opportunity to shine and sell themselves to a watching audience of general public and more importantly talent judges who could help them in their careers.
The host Amy Howerska was superb. She is a comedienne and her comedic talent and confident stage persona shone throughout. She wasn’t necessarily playing it for laughs all the time, but she did keep proceedings moving along energetically and amusingly. She interviewed all the acts and engaged in light hearted banter with them where she could. When technical hitches appeared she appeared unfazed by them and kept on talking or got the acts to show her how to do some of their dance moves or showed off some of her own. She was pretty athletic herself and I was impressed by her ability to do cart wheels in a long black dress! Amy was a good professional host, exactly what such a show needed.
One of the most apt comments of the night came from Amy when she said, “I don’t know about Hillingdon’s Hidden Talent, it’s more a question that Hillingdon’s got too much talent!” I couldn’t agree more and look forward to next year’s show.
18+ Individual acts
1st – Chiara
2nd- Hanna Wiltshire
3rd – Jeff White
Under 18’s – Individual acts
1st – Ethan Beer
2nd – Pranarvi
3rd – Renee Lauren
1st – Passion Dance
2nd – Sgt Down
3rd- Twisted Talent Twins
Overall Winner and Special prize winner
Most unusual act
Winner – Keeley Garner
Detailed review of all performers
1. Bhavna Mahli – Star rating – 5
Opening act was the super Asian singer Bhavna Mahli. I thoroughly enjoyed her song which got the afternoon off to a fine start.
2. The Flipping Tastics – 3
The Flipping Tastics were dare I say it flippin great. They looked about 5 and 8 years old. Sporting blue leotards they performed an acrobatic, gymnastic set that saw them doing cart wheels and back flips galore, plus spinning, lifting and rolling around the stage gleefully.
They were good, but a little stilted in their routines at times. They came across as very shy and quiet in their pre-set interview and would benefit from practicing mock interviews before doing their next talent show.
3. Michelle O’Regan – 3
Saxophonist Michelle sang “Somewhere over the rainbow.” She was very good, although unfortunately this was slightly spoiled by her hitting bum notes a few times.
4. Chiara – 2
R n B singer Chiara sang Alicia Keys ‘If I got you.’ Her voice was OK, but her performance was for me so so. She seemed expressionless and nervous looking and needed to put a lot more love and passion into her performance. This is a classic Alicia Keys that has been well covered before, including by some at Birmingham’s Open Mic UK talent contest in 2013. Chiara also plays the piano. That said her talent impressed the judges sufficiently for her to win 1st prize in the ’18+ individual act’s category’.
5. Renee Lauren – 3
Sang ‘At Last’ by Etta James, acapella style. Powerful voice but so so performance. It wasn’t the best cover version I’ve ever heard of this classic number.
She won 3rd prize in the Individual Under 18’s category.
6. Keeley Garner – 4
Six year old Keeley performed a wonderful Arabian dance routine, full of cart wheels (a bit of a recurring theme!) and splits. Very good. She won the prize for ‘most unusual act.’
7. Daniel Mansfield- 1
The first adult of the afternoon. He was a singer –guitarist who sang his own song called ‘Grace’. I found this very disappointing indeed. The song was boring, lacked oomph and energy. Without those qualities it was hard to listen to and the song went on for what seemed an eternity.
8. Passion Dance – 5
I especially enjoyed the young female dance trio called Passion Dance. They were very good, especially the lady who took centre stage. She was very precise and on point with all her moves. The whole troupe were energetic, athletic and watchable. The choice of music complemented their act well. They won a well deserved 1st place trophy in the Groups award category.
1. Sgt Down – 4
This female duo were very good and won 2nd prize in the ‘group acts’ category. One sang a love song and played drums, well beat the speaker box, whilst her colleague played guitar. The singer’s delivery style was dry, but she sang beautifully, Cranberry’s style. The guitarist could have put more enthusiasm into it and played in just one tune throughout. Some variety would not have gone amiss. She missed the beat a few times too. They both needed to look out at the audience more and look as if they were enjoying it. They were on stage to entertain after all.
2. Ethan Beer – 3
The biggest winner of the night was 16 year old Ethan Beer who won an amazing three awards – Best Individual Under 18, Overall Winner and Special Prize for the night. The latter earned him a professionally produced music video to be filmed and produced by Talking Pictures Limited. Ethan Beer was one of the singer-guitarist’s on the line up and sang very beautifully. He had a good voice, but in my view chose a weak song. I am surprised he did so well as I marked him down for a far too softly sung opening and ending to his song. The tempo needed to be maintained throughout. Notwithstanding that it was a good performance and obviously the judges saw something special in him to reward him with three 1st place trophies.
3. Natasha – 5
Natasha mentioned that she had been singing since she was in primary school, but I bet she wasn’t singing classical opera back then. She was bellisima in singing an Italian operatic song. Like many of the other female performers she came across as quite shy.
4. Charlotte Willis – 3
Charlotte, 15, sang a Puccini operatic song. She said her desire to perform was inspired by seeing someone sing on America’s Got Talent. I thought the song was great, but the performance so so. Visually she came across as a bit stilted. She was more staccato and less vibrato unfortunately. She was very animated in her delivery though which was great to see.
5. Pranavi – 4
Pranavi was a very good Asian dancer. Due to technical difficulties delaying her start, Pranavi was encouraged to show host Amy some of her dance moves which was a fun way to fill time. Though she seemed very shy, once underway with her routine she was very good, dancing gracefully and balletically around the stage. However the ending came suddenly out of the blue. She just ran off stage and stood in the wings for a couple of minutes. Not sure if she took ill or something. Very odd. That was a shame and not the way she would have liked to close her performance. Nonetheless it didn’t stop her from winning 2nd prize award for the Under 18’s individual category.
6. Musetta (Gemma Dwarwood) – 2
Female singer – guitarist. More of the Ed Sheeran influence. The song was weak and the performance was sung well but overall sounded quite average. She had a confident stage presence which impressed.
7. Twisted Talent Twisted Twins – 4
Twins Amy and Zoe, aged 9 & 12 hmmm! Not sure how that works, but anyway they entertainingly hula hooped their way around the stage in their Day-Glo brightly lit hoops. They were very good.
8. Jeff White, 64 – 5
At the mature end of the spectrum we saw Jeff White, 64, who retires from his day job next year, but is looking to take up music as a post retirement sojourn – depending, as he said, if the audience liked him or not. I enjoyed his set tremendously. Jeff sang a song called ‘Flower Power’ about life working in a bakery. It was a clever, cheeky song full of witty, good humour and poetry. His efforts earned him not only the rousing applause of the audience as a demonstration that he should continue with his act, but the trophy for 3rd place in the 18+ category.
9. Hannah Wiltshire, 21 – 4
Hannah’s a Masters student in Greek mythology and joked that it was part of her contractual obligations to introduce the world to Greek mythology through his music. Joking or not her song did actually do exactly that. She choose a good song, had a warm, engaging voice. I enjoyed this performance from this singer-guitarist. Her performance earned her a well deserved 2nd place award in the ’18+ individual acts category.’
10. Emanuele Nardini, 14 – 3
Last but not least we saw Emanuele. He sang and played guitar melodically to nicely close the showcase.
Hillingdon’s Hidden Talent brought out from the shadows of Hillingdon some of the latent talent within this West London borough. A packed house saw a broad range of talent. I think it would have benefited from more audience participation e.g. by stating at the start and between intervals what the voting categories were and having at least one category that the audience could vote on e.g. most popular act as voted for by the audience – perhaps across one or all categories.
A programme listing all the acts and brief biographies would have been useful too, with a separate scoring sheet to be handed in at the end.
As I said before many of the acts need to work on their confidence, their stage persona and interview skills in order to give a more polished performance. It would have been nice to hear some more dynamic and adventurous songs. For my liking, there were too many singer- guitarists on the line up and too many classics sung. I look forward to seeing some of these acts in the years to come in their own shows as well as appearing on other talent shows.
Photos and review © Tiemo Talk of the Town
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