02 Aug 2013
Back in July Mark performed at a fund raising show for the local Alzheimer support group in Skipton Town Hall. Peter Sandeman the general manager of Leeds City Varieties saw Mark perform that night, and after a chat with Mark, Sue and myself at the interval, he offered Mark a spot at a fund raising show, arranged by the Friends of the City Varieties, to raise money for the refurbishment fund.
We arrived at the City Varieties on Sunday the 14th September at 4pm for band call and were met the compere Johnny Dennis, who introduced us to the people who were there at that time.
We were shown to the Empress dressing room at the very top of the backstage stairs. To say it was lived in was an understatement, but it was his first dressing room, so "what the heck". We settled in the main stalls to watch rehearsals. We found the whole experience fascinating, seeing the stage/sound crew working. Everybody was so helpful with "procedure". With it being our first time, it was much appreciated as we did feel a little out of our depth. When Mark was called he did a dry run of the Vanishing Bandana to set level on his mic and get a feel of being on the stage.
At the buffet tea Gordon Kaye and Peter Wallis spoke to us. They both seemed very pleased for Mark, and I think they were happy to see new talent coming through. When Jimmy Cricket arrived, Mark, not wanting to appear shy, went and introduced himself.
Before the show started we met up with family and people who had come from the Circle to support Mark. The support of Stevie, Colin, Angela and Loma was very much appreciated. Mark's spot was after the interval so we were able to enjoy the first half of the show. During the interval Mark got changed and had his mic fitted. It was fitted to his forehead using elastic, which didn't go down too well, as it messed up his hair.
Mark's spot was between Jimmy Cricket and Johnnie Casson. He came confidently on to stage and delivered an excellent performance (I would say, if it wasn't up to scratch) and appeared to show no nerves for a first time appearance on stage at such a well known theatre. He started with a six straw repeat, adapted from a routine by Darren. This led to an operation on a balloon model dog and passing a needle through the balloon to mend the broken back of the dog. He then presented a mysterious rope with four ends, which turned to 2 ropes and back to the original one rope. A finale of the "vanishing bandana" was well received leaving everyone laughing.
Mark was followed on stage by top of the bill Johnnie Casson who started his act by paying Mark a compliment before starting his routine. After the show, in the bar Mark was complimented by acts and family and friends alike for a great performance. His mum and myself nearly had to drag him home from the bar as he was enjoying the well-deserved attention.
Apparently he did get to sleep at some point that night after the adrenaline worked out of his system.