The planning for RAG Week goes back a long way, and the preparations for this event in particular started in November. Contestants were invited to “drop in” auditions, where only the very best were selected.
Whilst the success of the evenings such as this one does lie heavily on the quality of the acts, I find that the judges and hosts are almost as important to a good show. The chemistry between the two hosts, Mark Gregory and Lauren Dunlop was great. They played off each other really well, especially when both Rory and the raffle tickets were lost for a few moments. In fact, my favourite moment of the night may just have been seeing Rory McLion dance to a beatboxing judge.
Speaking of judges, the panel was comprised of: Association President, Freddie Fforde; dance expert, Lisa Anne Millar; singer, songwriter and beatboxer Leon O’Rourke; and TOG’s Sam Lipworth. As the evening progressed and the bottles of red wine emptied from the judge’s corner, the comments became more amusing and at times, a bit baffling.
The second half of the show kicked off with the aforementioned raffle, though there were joking accusations of a fix as many of the numbers drawn were those belonging to the judges, the hosts and the volunteers! The prizes were quite impressive though and included vouchers such as £100 from Tommy Hilfiger, £50 from The Rule and gift baskets from Bonkers.
The show continued with a dance act introduced as Lisa and Katie. The girls looked gorgeous in sparkly ethnic outfits as they performed a Bollywood routine. The judges were impressed by the “excellent choreography” and the “infectious energy, vibrancy and colour” that they brought onto the stage.
Sophie Quayle was up next, singing and playing the guitar. She made the brave choice of stripping back Adele and sang excellently. Whilst Fforde didn’t recognise it (apparently he didn’t really get much of the music that night), the sound was described as “captivating”.
It was then the turn of stand up comedian David Spain. He was quick to point out that his mother and sister were in the audience that night, but that didn’t stop him from carrying Rory McLion’s head as he came on stage. Whilst he did have one or two truly funny jokes, I would be inclined to agree with the judges when they said that he was “very close to the wire”, or as O’Rourke put it, “all fart and no poo.”
The last two acts were both singers. The first was an original song, described as “endearing”, whilst the second was a mash up of Katie Perry’s Teenage Dream and Calvin Harris’ I Feel So Close To You Right Now. This was performed on the ukulele by Ruth Kroch, no stranger to stages, as she is a member of The Accidentals. Lipworth commented that this was “the best vocal performance of the night”.
So we began with twelve acts, to be knocked down to just three by the judges. The audience were entertained by a performance from Ballroom Society as the decision was made.
The final three were Ruth Kroch, Matt Gibson and Lisa and Katie. The idea was that the audience choose the winner, based on who got the loudest cheers. However, it was extremely close and had to go to the judges for first and second place. The results were as follows:
WINNER – Ruth Kroch. RUNNER UP – Lisa and Katie. THIRD PLACE – Matt Gibson.