The walls of my entertainment room burst with a montage of photos, amongst the black-and-white visages performers such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Madonna, Hal Blaine, Little Richard, the Beach Boys, Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, Chubby Checker and Gary “U.S.” Bonds.
In addition to those musicians, reside such artistic luminaries as Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Rita Moreno. While I have incredible admiration for performers who’ve excelled in one field, my deepest respect and respect are reserved for entertainers who can succeed or perform admirably across a broad range of performing arts disciplines.
People like Sinatra-considered by many the greatest singer of all-time who also happened to win an Oscar for best supporting actor for his performance as Private Angelo Maggio in ‘From Here to Eternity’-Moreno-who is the only entertainer to win an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy and an Emmy in her esteemed and varied career-and Harry Shearer-who not provides several voices on the seminal, long-running Simpsons’ television series, but hosts a popular hybrid news-commentary show on public radio, authored books and will be forever linked to ‘This is Spinal Tap’ culminating a prolific career as an actor-prompt fascination and exploration. Yes, variety can be the spice of life.
From the Days of Vaudeville
In the evolving world of events, mobile entertainers are often called upon to provide a multitude of offerings at gigs that are increasing becoming multi-media and multi-talent showcases. Clients want and expect more for their economically-depressed investment. Thus, the variety show, ala the Hollywood Palace and Ed Sullivan, is alive and well in the modern world of the mobile entertainer.
Right Here on Our Really Big Show
What skills does a mobile entertainer need to comfortably execute a variety show? Emcee skills are imperative. While many outside the entertainment field may perceive the role of an emcee as a fairly easy task, the reality is a great emcee is critical to the success of any event featuring multiple acts, speakers, or dialog.
Certainly, the criticism attendant to anyone who hosts the Academy Awards is significant evidence that an emcee’s responsibility bears tremendous import.
An effective emcee demonstrates excellent interaction with the crowd; is informed and well-prepared, gaining knowledge in advance of the audience’s background to support timely and informative interjections; prepares scripts, if necessary; dresses appropriately; establishes eye contact; transitions from awkward moments effortlessly; shows respect to all acts; learns proper pronunciations; displays awareness of supporting physical gestures; and understands that the emcee is not the star of the show.
Always a popular feature at an event, a dance contest is a skillful way to engage a crowd, particularly if a specific theme is featured that may guide the selection of the preferred dances for the contest.
With many years of incorporating dance instruction into events, one recommendation: please, please, please employ the audience or a panel of judges to decide the contest. Not only will you engage more guests in the activity-hopefully, they will pay attention to render a valid judgment-you’ll remove any questions of bias on your part.
In addition, if you demonstrate any period or theme dances, contracting the services of dance partner with exceptional people skills is a valuable asset. A partner can not only help with any dance instruction or demonstrations, he or she can assist with contest judging.
The success of any multi-act event rests, in large part, on the cooperative relationship that is established between the various entertainers. While the mobile entertainer is undoubtedly a critical element, often serving as emcee and, sometimes, as part of the bill, the stronger the overall quality of the performers and the relationship vibe emanating from the stage, the likelihood the audience’s enjoyment will be greater.
Learn and execute how each act would like to introduced; ensure accurate pronunciations; understand a time limitation, if applicable, and develop a discreet way to support that goal; and smile and have fun! Tension is your adversary and a smile and calm, positive demeanor is your ally.
Embrace the Peacock
Perhaps, you, as the mobile entertainer, wish to offer more to your clients. Organizing a variety show of local talent might be an effective marketing tool, particularly, in an era of closed wallets and heightened expectations. Network with dancers, magicians, hypnotists, musicians, improv groups, singing telegram performers and other entertainers who might provide a value to your clients.
Whether you choose to contract and pay the performers yourself or aggregate the performance agreements for the client is strictly your call. Keep in mind that you assume general and possibly specific responsibility for their performance whether you sign or the client signs the contract.
Vivia Brevis, Ars Lunga
Variety may be the spice of life and, in the mobile entertainment world, if you are prepared, savvy and ready, variety may be the key to riding the current economic tsunami.
Filed Under: Issues from 2009, Performing
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