Chris Cross’s new Quayside Cabaret Club made its first grand appearance upstairs in the Montana Lounge of Prima Ristorante, on Newcastle Quayside, and was packed with a magical mix of stand up, sleight-of-hand tricks, singing, comedy, knife-juggling and escapology.
The three-course Italian meal was excellent and the service quick and unobtrusive, allowing for everyone to focus on the entertainment when dining was over.
As the show progressed, Prima’s wine stocks were depleting with every passing minute and the laughs becoming even more raucous.
Chris made an effort to greet each guest personally, and in the breaks between the acts he came round to show off some of his card and magic tricks.
This personal touch really enhanced our experience and left our table at a loss to explain how he had pulled the tricks off.
The larger-than-life magician said: ‘’I’m thrilled to be introducing my very own cabaret show to Newcastle’s nightlife at long last!
“I’ve wanted to launch a cabaret club ‘at home’ for years now but I was always too busy with gigs around the world and was never home long enough to make it all happen.
“But now that I’m back in Newcastle to stay and putting down roots, the dream can become a reality.”
Support act Simon Donald, co-founder of Viz comic, also gave a stand out performance.
In his first appearance as market researcher Barry Twyford, he took the opportunity to poke fun at the myth of the monkey hanging in Hartlepool and made slight digs at the dress sense of some of the audience.
Although only on for a short stint, Donald interacted perfectly with the front few rows and produced a performance that would not have looked out of place in a Vic Reeves or Bob Mortimer sketch.
The Geordie comedian reappeared later in the evening with a guitar to create a lethal concoction of music and humour.
All the way through the audience was very much participatory – volunteers came and bravely assisted the pink-haired Natt Lunatrick in his attempt to juggle three very sharp knives while sitting atop a unicycle.
The climax came when Chris made a timed escape out of a straitjacket accompanied by excited chanting and encouragement from the room.
For a second it seemed as if he would be unsuccessful, but the flexible magician managed pull off the feat with not even half a second to spare.
It was at times difficult to hear because of technical problems, and the restaurant layout felt at times a little cramped.
But on the whole, the evening contained some fine comedy and brilliant musicianship, giving those who attended a brilliant side order of belly laughs to go with a delightful Italian meal.
Seconds will be dished up on December 23 at Prima in the form of a Christmas cabaret special. Take our advice and don’t miss out.