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London's longest running cabaret series has gone online, and it's a smash.


The birthday party had to be canceled. All of the regular attendees, newcomers to the occasion, everyone who had been looking forward to the celebration would be disappointed, but there was no choice: the world was in quarantine. It would have been a wonderful celebration, though. For seven years Harold Sanditen's Open Mic Party had been the toast of London, and the longest-running show at Crazy Coqs. Still, with the global health crisis demanding that everyone stay indoors, live performing had been stopped in a most abrupt manner, leaving artists around the world sitting at home, without income, without creative outlet, and without answers.

Harold had an answer, though, and it came when he caught wind of something that, in a few weeks, the entire world would know: Zoom. The Oklahoma-born Londoner took to his computer and began learning how the application worked; from there Sanditen began putting together the online version of his show, and today over one hundred twenty-six singers have appeared on the twice-monthly show. The first few episodes of Harold Sanditen'S OPEN MIC PARTY were, he admits, a bit of a learning curve, while he explored the new waters of the internet, discovered that live-stream events can be a breeding ground for technical snafus, got busted for having dance parties to copyrighted music, and hit a wall with ill-advised sing-a-longs. Then he found his online voice and determined the way to go was video. Sanditen would line up talent, have them create and transfer to him a video of their musical performance, and then he, as emcee, would chat up the crowd, show the music video, and do a one on one interview with the artist(s)... and, boy, is it working for him.

Harold Sanditen's Open Mic Party is a genuinely enjoyable and refreshing bit of regularly scheduled virtual programming. Everyone suffered through mishaps during the virtual Sondheim event, and poor audio from the streaming Princess Bride fundraiser. It didn't make the performers any less wonderful and it didn't distract from the importance of the causes, but those little technical snags are one of the reasons so many people have Zoom burnout. With Harold at the helm, the production of his show is seamless, professional, unfettered, and smooth, and so is he. Clearly a master Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Sanditen isn't thrown by the lack of applause after numbers, and he doesn't require the energy that a live audience gives a performer - he runs the evening like a seasoned television chat show host. There's hardly ever a moment to get bored or frustrated with the programming because he keeps it moving, and with simple ease.

For each show, Harold welcomes artists whom viewers will recognize, famed talents like Anita Gillette, Karen Mason, and Linda Purl, but since his live shows at Crazy Coqs have always been an open mic where newcomers to the party could count on a shot at the mic, it was of paramount importance that the virtual version not become a web series about how talented his famous friends were. With that thought planted firmly on the front burner, Sanditen took great care to curate each episode with a proper balance of entertainers both celebrated and humble, balancing out the entertainers from various cities, maintaining equality in the male-female ratio of performers, and always looking for ways to expand; to that, this writer might offer that some more gender-fluid performers and entertainers of ethnic backgrounds might liven up the proceedings a little.

Harold Sanditen's Open Mic Party has an impressive look about it, complete with opening credits and green screen backgrounds, and the host himself is wonderful, and to think he performs his hosting duties twice a month, while curating the talent and producing the show! He is, without doubt, a force to be reckoned with, and the guests do love him, so. The conversational part of the program is always relaxed and easygoing, he knows the art of conversation, when to ask, what to ask, and when to shut up and let the guest talk, but also how to guide a guest who might be a bit nervous and not know what to say. It isn't an easy job, what Sanditen is doing, and he's accomplishing a lot, and he even performs on the show. There's a lot of Wow factor here, and that makes checking out the show worth the time and effort. It's one of the best virtual variety shows to be found online, and it's free.

That is to say, it has been free.

For the first weeks of his open mic night, Mr. Sanditen created the show out of love - love for what he does, love for live entertainment, love for the artists. Recently, the continual work of putting the show together has led to a change in the outlook over money, and it should, because nobody who works in the live entertainment industry is making any money. To offset the costs of the show, Harold recently began asking for a little help from the viewing audience - a tip, a small contribution of £3.50 or $5 per show. I've watched several episodes and I am here to say, that is a bargain, and people might, well, consider something a little more substantial IF they have the means, right now, which we all understand that not everyone will. If it's there, though, a little assist would be a great way to thank Sanditen for his efforts, which are considerable.

It's a small price to pay for such a big show.

Harold Sanditen's Open Mic Party occurs twice a month with a special Halloween show on October 29th. Optimum viewing for the program is via Zoom, which makes it interactive, and interested viewers simply email Sanditen for the Zoom link at . For those who prefer streams, go to Harold's Facebook page HERE or his Youtube channel HERE

All shows are at 7 pm London time and convene on Zoom at 7 pm, but the streams on Facebook and YouTube start at 7.10 pm, allowing for late arrivals.

Upcoming dates:
September 24
October 8, 22, and 29
November 5 and 19
December 3, 17, and 31

Virtual tips can be made at:

Venmo: @Harold-Sanditen
CashApp: $HaroldSanditen

Visit Harold Sanditen's website HERE
Twitter: @HaroldSanditen
Instagram: @HaroldSanditen


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From This Author Stephen Mosher