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Elvis Night, The Hand Stadium, Clevedon



The Hand Stadium recently purchased by a new owner, Mark Lewis, has been the subject of a major refurbishment and it offers first class conference, sport and leisure facilities. Mark hopes that the local community will take full advantage of all the facilities both sporting and social including the Vibe Nightclub which has been updated with new sound and lighting; tea dances have been listed as a forthcoming attraction but we were in for something a little less sedate, a cabaret night with lovable local comedian Frankie Johns and Elvis impersonator, Darren H Presley. Tickets at £15 per head including a rustic ploughman’s supper had been snapped up by all and sundry and if I’m not mistaken a local Elvis appreciation club took a table too.

The nightclub looks very slick with mood lighting, plasma screens, a stage area and a DJ booth, with tables laid up cabaret style. Bar service is polished and professional and coped well with the early evening crush before the show began. Frankie Johns got the evening off to a flying start with a few good belly laughs courtesy of his personal knowledge of Bristol and his winning way with the punters. The hapless bloke found chatting during his routine was summarily tapped on the shoulder and asked how he would like it if Frankie came round to his bedroom one night whilst he was performing and talked all over him! His routine is original and funny and not only is he very amusing but a tireless worker for the Help for Heroes charity, in whose honour the raffle had been set up. Oh yes, and he can sing as well; is there no end to his variety skills?

Then Elvis swept into the building, Darren H Presley in the guise of the king himself. He proved to be multi-talented, worked the room asking for requests, and is obviously a gifted mimic in other areas - his Frank Spencer was even better than his Elvis. For the first half of his act he sang early Elvis and promised us the "70s and the whole cat suit thing" after we broke for supper. Ladies were excitable but not so much so that they didn’t do the very respectable ploughman’s supper justice, large slices of ham off the bone, generous portion of cheddar cheese, salad and pickle, and endless fresh crusty rolls.

Elvis returned himself to sender as promised, lycra-clad bejewelled and fringed in gleaming white and belted out those 70s classics we all love to sing along to. Dancing was encouraged and the more courageous amongst us swivelled their hips alongside Elvis even though perhaps they weren’t as snake-like as his! It was a great evening, and much hard work had been put in by performers and staff alike.

Jacquie Vowles


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