IT’S hard to find anyone in show business who has had more ups and downs than Joe Longthorne, an entertainer with his fair share of success and setbacks.
From sell out concerts around the globe, Royal Command performances, Gold and Platinum Discs and a long running ITV series, to financial difficulties and a long running health battle with lymphoma and leukaemia which resulted in Joe undergoing a lifesaving but near fatal bone marrow transplant in 2005.
Having made the trip to Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE from Prince Charles in November, Joe was all set to celebrate with fans at a special tribute dinner at VIVA in December, but fell ill at the last minute causing him to miss out.
“I was absolutely distraught,” said Joe.
“It wasn’t just about letting the fans down who’d come from across the country especially for the evening, but I was so looking forward to celebrating this major honour in a town that I love.
“I was also looking forward to watching a show that had been organised in my honour, starring some very special friends from past and present.”
Joe, though, had been struck down by the dreaded norovirus and wasn’t in any fit state to make an appearance.
“I was bedridden for almost two weeks just before Christmas and I just about managed to perform a New Years’ Eve date in Manchester, before I headed off for some important recovery time,” he said.
“It was important I took some time out and I’ve now had 10 weeks rest and relaxation in the US at my holiday home in Fort Lauderdale, which has done me the world of good.
“I’m fighting fit now and looking forward to a brilliant season coming up.”
That season involves Joe being at VIVA, a venue he describes as “fantastic”.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he added. “A change is as good as a rest and it’s nice to be planning a different style of show in a Vegas Lounge style environment with a big band backing.”
Joe is set to play more than 25 dates at VIVA during the course of the year, with the first gig on Easter Sunday. The big band also makes a return with venue host Leye D Johns and his VIVA Showgirls performing on stage to complete the line-up.
“It’s so nice to see Joe back from the States looking so well,” said VIVA director and show host Leye.
“This is a different style of show for Joe fans to enjoy - it’s the complete night out with early evening food options to choose from in an intimate setting where he’ll be close to the fans.”
Tickets for the shows with reserved seats start at £14.90. A Sunday carvery option can be added onto a ticket for £11.95 (two courses).
Performances are scheduled for the March 31, May 5, May 26 and then each Sunday evening from July 7-November 3.
Meanwhile VIVA is launching, for the first time, afternoon shows for all the family, which begin at Easter.
The child-friendly shows, featurning the characters Chipper and Cherry, are suitable for all ages.
“We always said when we went for the licence that we aimed to open up to a family audience during the day as we really believe it’s a market we can cater for,” said VIVA director Martin Heywood. “It’s nice to be involved in a different type of show and we think we’ve a great product on our hands for parents and grandparents to visit with their kids with everything under one roof.
“We want everyone to know that during the day there’s a place in town you can come free of charge, see a brilliant family production show with great food and drinks on offer at a reasonable price too.”
The shows will take place every weekend - starting next Saturday (12-4pm) and Sunday (11-3pm) - with additional performances on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the Easter school holidays.
For more details contact on any show at VIVA go to www.vivablackpool.com or 01253 297 297.