SINCE 1912, The Royal Variety Performance has staged thousands of performances, witnessed a number of comedic hosts and shared it’s celebrations with a variety of venues.  

Following its success with the centenary anniversary, The Royal Albert Hall in London, once again, became the venue for this year’s Royal Variety Performance, with its platform stage delighting producers and pleasing audiences.

Aired on ITV last night, posh-boy comedian, Jack Whitehall, fronted the event and at the age of 27, has now been recognised as the youngest ever host for the Royal Variety Show. His retiring and modest banter pleasantly filled the role, especially when he continued to fondly satirize “the king of banter”, Prince Harry, who also made his debut appearance in the show’s royal box. Whitehall, who went to the same school as his sister-in-law, The Duchess of Cambridge, addressed the Prince as one of his heroes for his army sentence, charity work and for simply being “one of the lads”. Of course, all taken in good spirit and humour by his royal highness.

Jack Whitehall RVPIn previous years, the Royal Variety Performance has staged strong representations of definitive theatrical spectacles. However, 2015 produced a star-studded night which relied heavily on pop music, with a minor input from the worlds of dance, classical music and West-End performances. The young comedian and Bad Education actor introduced an extravaganza including Sir Elton John, One Direction, Little Mix, Kylie Minogue and Zizi Stallen’s Mary Poppins, to name but a few and unfortunately, this year proved to be simply monotonous.

The 103rd anniversary was kick started by soul and R&B singer Beverley Knight who provided a short rendition of the British national anthem amongst simple staging, consisting of a spotlight and an orchestra of Grenadier Regiment – A true British spectacle. The CATS star was warmly welcomed by her audience and the Prince who respectfully stood together to sing with pride on the “biggest night of showbiz.”

Global sensations, One Direction, opened the show with their impressive harmonies and smartened rugged looks, for one of their final appearances together. The gentle strobelights and softening of their perceived bad-boy image was admiringly greeted by the audience, despite breezing through their latest single “Perfect”.

One Direction - Royal Variety PerformanceThe lack of energy in the room was quickly turned around when Whitehall joked to the band about losing Zayn, and gatecrashed the stage in a hilarious ensemble mocking Harry Styles.

Jack Whitehall as Harry Styles at Royal Variety PerformanceUnfortunately, the entertainment became hugely mediocre when Latin superstar Ricky Martin performed a medley of his smash hit singles, Livin’ La Vida Loca, She Bangs and Shake Your Bom. Though his lighting spoke vibrance and his personality exuded energy, his dancing was lost amongst the dads at the party. No amount of choreography would be able to invigorate his performance.

Thankfully, the same couldn’t be said for international singing sensation and pop princess Kylie Minogue, who managed to raise the roof with her cover of Andy Williams’ “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. The fluffy costumes, festive staging and cheeky dancing embraced the festive cheer, whilst her sweet vocals were extremely endearing and enthralled Christmas spirit for her sixth appearance at the Royal Variety Show.

It’s a shame there was no festive cheer amidst Jeff Lynne’s ELO. Although they were addressed by Whitehall as one of the “most respected and influential musicians ever”, the atmosphere throughout their performance couldn’t have been more opposite to Miss Minogue. It was, indeed, soulless. Yes, he fulfilled his role as a heritage rock legend with his old-fashioned look and iconic no eye contact shades, but after plunging into his popular oldie, “Mr Blue Sky”, much to the audiences delight,  the night just seemingly became lifeless and exhausted.

Fortunately, The Killers front man, Brandon Flowers and his distinctive voice, gave a unique and almost haunting performance, whilst Beverley Knight’s rendition of musical favourite “Memories” echoed through the room in a powerful and glamour-filled performance – A goose bump moment, some may say. American country singer and Grammy-Award winner, Casey Musgraves, performed a stunningly clear vocal of Coldplay’s “Yellow”, whilst Jimmy Tarbuck  gave a touching tribute to “Liverpool’s Cinderella”, Miss Cilla Black.

Stepping up the energy, former X Factor winners, Little Mix, oozed with sparkle last night, as there Hollywood-glamour style graced the stage in their heavily embellished gowns and sophisticated makeovers.  Their 1920s setting was pleasantly complemented as Perrie, Leigh-Anne, Jade and Jesy excelled with an elegant performance of their latest single, “Love Me Like You”. Despite performing in front of Sir Elton John and a list of other talented performers, the girls maintained confidence and charm to ensure they received the royal approval off Prince Harry.

Little Mix - Royal Variety PerformanceCirque Du Soleil provided an intense, eye-catching moment for viewers with underwater acrobats and balancing techniques which left the audience awe-inspired. The simple staging and unusual music sustained the intensity in the room as they commenced their controlled skills and effortless talent, a peak moment of the night.

Also highlighting the evening were the two performances from British theatre, Mary Poppins and The Play That Goes Wrong.  Zizi Stallen’s Mary Poppins oozed charisma, professionalism and excitement in a well-staged modernization of the 1964 Disney film which hugely captivated the audience. The Play That Goes Wrong, on the other hand, created large amounts of laughter and amusement through its clever adaptation to use purposeful mishaps and bloopers.  The 1930’s setting, exaggerated acting, and dry humour energized the room and put the variety back in the show, particularly after the flop performances from the comedians, including new dad, Chris Ramsey.

Mary Poppins - Royal Variety PerformanceBritain’s Got Talent winners, Jules and Matisse were joined by feline friends and massively lived up to their high expectations. The four-legged friends gave a heart-warming, entertaining and talented performance with brilliant story-telling and a genius ending, inspired from children’s favourite, Tom & Jerry.

Jules and Matesse - Royal Variety PerformanceIn his fifth appearance, Sir Elton John closed the show in his iconic dark shades and glitzy costumes whilst sat amongst a colourful and vibrant setting. Unfortunately, the superstar and his aged band gave a slow, disengaging performance of his hit single, “Tiny Dancer”, which quite literally downed the mood upon a rather tired night.

This year was a definite step back for entertainment and slick performances!

By Emily Fuller

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