This Sunday (11 Mar) Crystal D’Canter and Kelly Mild will be celebrating a decade of afternoon madness with CK Sunday at Halfway II Heaven. Dave Cross met up with the girls to find out how they started and what makes these afternoons so special and loved by the audiences at Halfway.
Hi ladies, can you believe it’s CK 10?
Crystal: Is it? Honestly, the last 10 years have flown by and I never thought that we’d be here, but I’m so delighted we are.
Kelly: Where does the time go? I distinctly remember CK 1 and thinking that was a miracle. Nine years later and we’re still here. Just amazing.
Can you tell us what you were each doing career-wise before CK happened?
K: My working life has either been tickets or tights. I worked in the West End world of ticketing and marketing until three years ago. How we managed to hold down a nine to five job plus gigs for so long is a mystery.
C: I’ve worked in hospitality all of my working career, and still do. I love performing but hospitality is in my blood. I just have less ‘spare time’ now. I recently changed ‘the other job’ to less days a week, but I never want to give up either career. Though I do worry about having a split personality…
You were both performing as solo acts, how did you get together?
C: Cutting a long story short, Drag Idol 3. By chance we sang Suddenly Seymour (from Little Shop of Horrors) together and then we became CK. A special bond was created. We realised quickly that we have the same personal values, though we are very different people. We are like family on and off stage, tolerating each other’s quirks and appreciating each other’s strengths. Fate decided these two crazy country bumpkins from north and south should become CK. Well, fate and alcohol.
K: I heckled and generally made a nuisance of myself at Molly Moggs when Crystal was on. Crystal will confirm it was actually myself and my ex Dave that started the infamous “Back, back, back” chants during Crystal’s show. Funny how that, along with Suddenly Seymour and Bananrama, have become synonymous with CK.
At what point did it occur to you that CK was something special?
K: I think we have always known there was something special there. Duos don’t normally last this long on the cabaret circuit. I doubt either of us would’ve placed money on it lasting this long though. As Crystal says, we are like brothers, we love and hate, annoy and amaze in equal measure, plus are incredibly protective of each other. We can communicate via a look. It’s all in the eyes.
C: I guess when we got the Boyz gold award we thought it might be a little special, winning the silver and bronze in subsequent years we realised that people actually loved coming to see us. I think that our relationship is just ‘odd’ and the audience enjoy that. We literally catch up with each other live on stage and you get to know what craziness has happened to us since we last caught up. We’re like siblings – more The Nolans than The Carpenters – and that’s special in itself. Like all shows we have ups and downs, but we’re busier than ever on a Sunday at Halfway and it’s just amazing. A-maze-ing!
For those who have never been to Halfway on a Sunday, can you both describe what it’s like?
C: Madness in three parts. CK Sunday has a nice gentle start with some show tunes and a sing-along, part two is a little more audience participation and part three is CK Disco. The audience get more and more adventurous throughout the day and are just the best crowd to have when it gets to the disco tunes. The regulars know the ‘in’ jokes, new audience members become family and regulars all in one day. One thing I know is that people struggle to leave once they are down those stairs on a Sunday.
K: Think of it like a family gathering with crazy aunties hogging the karaoke. Being on the tourist trail we get the perfect mix of regulars and newbies. We are only as good as the crowd and they’ve been pretty awesome over the last 10 years.
Apart from Suddenly Seymour, can you each pick a favourite song that you love singing at CK Sundays?
K: When I was at Italia Conti (many, many years ago) I used to think the girls got the best musical theatre songs and now I get to sing them. Someone Like You from Jekyll and Hyde is one that I adore singing and I love watching Crystal belting out the songs from Hairspray.
C: The set list changes each week with new songs mixed with the staples that the audience pretty much expect. I Drove All Night is definitely in my top three. I love it when Kelly sings When You Believe or her romance ‘mix’ songs. She doesn’t do them often but she does so very well.
What do the audience at Halfway mean to you?
C: It’s tough to put this into words. I get emotional at times thinking about the audience and the times they’ve lifted us up when we’re down; how they share their lives and get involved with us. We’ve made some amazing friends and we love it when there are new audience members each week to get to know. The LGBT+ Ministry of Defence guys and gals hold a really special place in my heart. I’m so motherly and I worry about them when they are off on duty and they’re so, so good to us. Watch this space for news on our LGBT+ MOD fundraiser in August.
K: The audience is family. People come and people go in life but it’s memories that will never fade. I’ve had some of the happiest and also lowest times of my life at Halfway and it’s the people there, staff, turns or punters that lifted me and Crystal through this amazing journey.
Is it possible to pick a highlight from ten years?
K: To have my dad and his harem of ladies turn up week in week out and being such an integral part of the show was amazing. Being walked on to the stage by the MOD boys in uniform for our 6th anniversary in 2014 is a memory treasure.
C: I really am a soppy shit and if there’s one highlight it’s having such a crazy, madcap, opinionated, frustrating, annoying, gorgeous and talented friend as Kelly.
And finally what can we expect at CK 10 this Sunday?
C: We like to celebrate our anniversaries because there’s a chance to give something back. We have a sparkles reception, and then our won CK Sunday Awards, we have managed to get our Vileda Moppe to come and do a guest spot and, of course, lots of disco. The theme this year is retro disco so we’re really, really hoping to see flares, platform boots and disco dresses galore.
K: The CK Awards, skittle bombs, special guests and I’d put money on a surprise or two.