The Diary: Vaudeville entertainment makes Festival comeback

Pictured is Entertainer Rick Allan palying 'Mucky John' at the Edwardian Promenade Event at the Wakley Community Centre
Pictured is Entertainer Rick Allan palying 'Mucky John' at the Edwardian Promenade Event at the Wakley Community Centre
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IT’S a lost world traditionally populated by bearded ladies, moustachioed strongmen and ‘What The Butler Saw’ peepshows.

But the Edwardian Promenade is back and it’s live tonight in Walkley.

Though the freak-ish elements of the turn-of-the-20th-century are consigned to those less enlightened times, all the fun of the old fashioned fair remains - and there’s a good cause behind it.

More than 20 performers will animate the whole of the Walkley Community Centre building as part of the Walkley Festival in association with the local History society.

This one-off re-creation of popular entertainments of 100 years ago will bring such artistes as Boogie Woogie piano player Blind ‘Lemon’ Byrom, Pianola master Richard Peddles and Mr Tim D-jing with his 78’s grammophone player.

Later in the evening Mr Miller will record the audience for posterity on a genuine wax cylinder device, a sight and a sound to behold, say organisers.

So what are we 21st century YouTube and facebook-addicted promenaders going to have to tweet about from this evening of evocative Edwardian entertainment?
Plenty, apparently.

“It’s going to be brilliant and we’ve almost sold out,” said producer and entertainer Rick Allan Chair of Walkley Community Centre who also performs as ‘Flip-Flap’.

“We did half a version of it three years ago and we do Cabaret Boom-Boom every month here but this has quite a different feel. And it’s all in a building that is a Sheffield gem.

“An Edwardian Liberal Reform Club that began life in 1909 as a place for people to go to instead of going to the pub. A place where they could learn about gardening, dancing and play snooker or join a reading club.

“The night will be a different kind of performance. Rather than the audience sitting-down and being spoon-fed they will be invited to move around the building and see the sideshows set up around the place as you might have done 100 years ago.”

Among those sideshows will be a snooker trick shot master, Mucky John’s Peep Shows, Side show Stew’s Flea Circus, Walkleys’ first ever Museum of Curiosities and old Miss Hunt will tell your fortune.

Installations will showcase archive material unearthed by the Walkley history project which has helped fund the Promenade with a portion of its £60,000 Lottery Heritage Grant.

There are prizes to be won in a historical treasure hunt, ‘chuck it in the bucket’ and shove ha’penny and later on a chance to dance to Electro Swing Dance Set. There will be a cafe and bar to raise funds for the centre. Last few tickets at Beeches of Walkley £8 and £5, doors 8pm till midnight.