Willows Variety Centre, Salford

In an era where too many top earning singers and comics are content to throw together a collection of songs or a string of gags and call it a cabaret show, it’s an unusual pleasure to find a performer who is prepared to pay for, and rehearse, a full blown stage production. Su Pollard is such a perfectionist. Having premiered her new act at the Lakeside last month, she presented it to a Northern cabaret crowd for the first time at the Willows Variety Centre in Salford. It was not Su Pollard but gawky Peggy from Maplin’s who ran through the room to tell us her turn hadn’t arrived yet.“This is my big moment” she cried, clambering on stage and going in to Look For The Silver Lining.

A smart pair of boy dancers joined her for Everything’s Coming Up Roses, lifting her off stage to change while they filled in. Su Pollard’s re-entrance was in spectacular style, her flowing yellow cloak at first concealing the pantomime principal boy’s outfit she was to wear for the next 70 minutes. The pink and silver top looked like an enormous Quality Street wrapper. Anything less outrageous would have been out of place and quite insufficient. What followed was a painstakingly constructed act in the true and traditional sprit of cabaret. An ambitious ‘all round’ entertainment designed to work anywhere from Sunderland Empire to the QE2. The quickfire comedy was punctuated with several original songs and well time dance routines.Everything was just right from the augmented orchestra of eight musicians to the use of radio mikes and stools. I’m On My Way is a confident progress report on Pollard’s career to date.

To the tune of Sam’s Song,she complains that lyricists write their best stuff for men to sing. She develops a Frankie Howerd-style relationship with her lady pianist, introduces the two boys as ‘Salford’s answer to Wham’, and works well when she makes a brief excursion into the audiences and suddenly staunches the flow of laughter with a totally ‘straight’ version of When I Fall In Love. Just like Ken Dodd and Norman Wisdom before her, this fool seeks acceptance as a serious singer and has released an album to prove it. The act has been written by Peter Langridge, the original songs are by Richard Kates, the show is directed and choreographed by Kenn Oldfield and the pianist and musical director is Leslie Burdett.

Tony Barrow

The Stage
July 1987