Elmhurst Windows.

As The Friendship Circle dazzled audiences with its annual talent show, JLife’s own Amanda Holden, Elaine Bermitz presents her verdict.


There can’t be many who haven’t taken to Zoom for an evening’s entertainment in these restricted times, so when The Friendship Circle announced a Saturday night Talent Show, it was unsurprising it attracted nearly 100 enthusiastic viewers. With 20 acts, most with special needs, extra work and rehearsal was required to meet the standards they required of themselves, but eager to please and full of enthusiasm, they overcame obstacles.

The audience was treated to quickfire acts of poetry, ukulele recitals, magic, comedy turns, dance and even a cookery demonstration mixed in with original compositions and an Elvis impression. – there really was something for everyone. And as this was a show, not a competition, there was none of the irritating judging to endure.

Five year-old Jay Cohen made his family proud with his song Lovely Creatures, followed by Hannah Mendel’s charming poem, confidently performed. Kate Bernstein and Hannah Levy both sang pop songs, while Roni Freeman recited What If? – a long and thoughtful poem on the problems life throws up and how they affect everyone.  Beautifully presented, she gave a heartfelt performance, showing a poise above her years.

Elliot Sayers, an excellent musician, showed another side of his character, when he sang a touching personal composition of his own, remembering the good times he had with someone he loved. He then gave a tremendous Elvis impression, with excellent timing and movement  – a real surprise.

Avi Pash

Two more youngsters followed, Claudia Etleman on the guitar and Natalya Morrison, whose sleight of hand performance involving cups and clapping combined with an enchanting smile showed all the promise of a budding magician.

Some supporters of the Circle joined in, with Joyce Freeman playing some lovely classical pieces and lending some gravitas to the evening, and yours truly contributing some poems. More performances from members and friends followed and an accomplished baking demonstration from Sarah Gillis left everyone wanting to try her product. Ian Creek, president of The Shrubberies, accompanied by his daughter, surprised us all by singing a little known but very funny Alan Sherman song.

The Shrubberies has forged a strong alliance with the Friendship Circle, holding inclusive services, fundraising lunches and ventures like this evening talent show, where the participants joined in, regardless of ability, a huge boost to the morale of those who often marginalised because of their difficulties, and who must work much harder to achieve their goals than other people. It is a tribute to Esti Bruck that all those who appeared were buoyed by the self-confidence she has instilled in them.

The evening was compèred by the suavely dressed estate agent turned online host David Mintz, resplendent in sparkly evening jacket, giving every act the build-up it deserved. At the end of the evening, he commented: “Before the show I was a little apprehensive, but I quickly realised there was no need to be. By the time it had finished I was truly humbled by the whole thing.” He could have been speaking for the whole audience.

To get involved with The Friendship Circle, head to Friendshipcircle.org.uk.