YOUNG performers from across the county have been given the chance to take part in a professional variety show in Blackburn.

Variety Live, billed as a vaudeville show for the 21st century, comes to the stage at the Thwaites Empire Theatre in a fortnight.


The show’s producers kept a spot on the bill clear to give a rising star the chance to perform in front of a full house.

Auditions were held at the theatre last week during half term week judged by the show’s compere Mark James and master illusionist Andrew Green who also co-produces the Variety Live show.

“We wanted to try something different to give young performer the chance audition and to showcase their talent,” he said.

“It was really heartwarming to see and the standard and variety of performers was truly amazing.”

After a full day’s auditions, singer-songwriter Leoni Jane Kennedy, was chosen to perform at the show.

“At just 14 it’s frightening how good she is,” said Andrew.

“The moment we heard her we knew she would be perfect for the show.”

Leoni, who comes from Thornton Cleveleys, said: “I was panicking quite a lot at the audition as I wasn’t sure what I did would be what they wanted on a variety show.

“But I’m delighted to have been chosen. It’s a great chance for me to perform in front of a new audience.”

Leoni first picked up a guitar when when she was four.

Her talent has been recognised by music giants Yamaha who began sponsoring her last year.

For her audition she sang a cover of Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive and one of her own compositions, Hesitation.

“I’ll be doing both of those in the show and there’s a chance I might be able to perform another so I’ll sing another of my songs if I can.

“I find it really difficult to describe my song because I can’t hear them as an audience can but a word that is often used is haunting.”

Last year Leoni was selected to perform live in the House of Commons as part of the Rock the House event to showcase rising talent from across the United Kingdom.

“I’ve only really started singing in public relatively recently,” she said.

“I would sing songs as I wrote them but now I’m going out and performing them.”

  • Variety Live, Thwaites Empire Theatre, Blackburn, Thursday, March 12. Details from 01254 685500.