Aspiration: Top 20 - Entertainers

When it comes to the wow factor at parties, quality entertainers can give your guests something to talk about for weeks afterwards. So, the votes are in, now let's see which companies have given you that extra element of surprise.

1. BOARDMAN BOOKINGS

From 100 Tony Blairs marching outside Parliament to a celebrity stylist creating David Beckham's lookalike World Cup hairstyle, Boardman Bookings is a trend setter and has stormed into first place with its booking service. Taking inspiration from factors outside the industry, and bringing influences from the urban scene, has won founder Emma Boardman an enviable list of clients including Givenchy and Ladbrokes.

She has just launched the Urban Culture Experience, and offers schooling in graffiti, mixing, scratching, MCing and break-dancing. Other new acts include Du'aine Ladejo's Superstars Challenge, a corporate version of the BBC's Superstars, and the Secret of Secrets act, an evening hosted by two of the country's leading mind readers.

An increased demand for innovative experiences and activities means that Boardman Bookings is now moving toward client workshops for 2006. Contact: www.boardmanbookings.co.uk

2. STAAR PRODUCTIONS

Just one year old and already soaring to the high ranks of the Top 20 is the aptly named Staar Productions. The company has all manner of entertainment services on its books, including stiltwalkers, lookalikes, tribute singers and bands, magicians, DJs, and a six-piece funk band. Clients include Vodaphone, Harrods, Wella and HSBC. Another arm of the company is The Staar Treatment, a bespoke service where a client can hire entertainment managers to "look after" the acts that may not have been booked through Staar Productions. The service includes pre-event management of the entertainment, including checking insurances and PAT certificates, plus advice on load-in, which is especially useful if there are venue restrictions on setting up. Contact: www.staarproductions.com

3. THE THREE WAITERS

Be it a dinner party for 12 or a ballroom of 1,000, this operatic show concept has proved popular with everyone from football players to opera buffs. Described by Luciano Pavarotti as "great, absolutely great", The Three Waiters has performed more than 4,000 shows in 55 countries. Clients include Coca-Cola and Toyota. Contact: www.thethreewaiters.com

4. STERNBERG CLARKE

Sternberg Clarke covers all entertainment imaginable and has been recommended by Unique Venues of London. The 10-year-old company booked more than 60 acts for an Oscar-themed party for the ICI annual sales conference, and Sharyn Hatfield of Mother Brown Events says that "it offers something different to the mainstream". Contact: www.sternbergclarke.co.uk

5. AREA 51

Area 51 has won the heart of many an event organiser with its eclectic range of entertainers. With clients ranging from Boots to Glastonbury, its experience in SFX, prop and costume design means that it can meet clients' various needs. "They provide that never been done before feeling," says Paragon managing director Jacqui Loftus. Contact: www.a51uk.com

6. THE POWDERPUFF GIRLS

Influenced by 1950s glamour, ballet dancer-turned-make-up artist Katie Reynolds has wowed the likes of Lulu Guinness and The Sunday Times with her retro make-up service at parties. "The Powderpuff Girls offers more than just a useful hair and make-up service, it's more a whole aesthetic," says Reynolds. Contact: www.thepowderpuffgirls.com. 7. SAV

Surprised "victims" smile, frown, laugh, sit up, strain their eyes and scratch their heads, usually within two minutes of meeting sleight-of-hand master Sav. He is best known for bemusing the clientele as deceptionist-in-residence at Chinawhite, Milk & Honey and The Kingly Club, and performed at Keira Knightly's 21st birthday. Contact: www.deceptionist.co.uk

8. TENORS AND DIVAS INCOGNITO

This act involves sexy and talented singers in a special "incognito" performance. Having "far exceeded expectations" at a Lloyds TSB commercial finance dinner, performed for the King of Malaysia and at Jordan's wedding, the group is now set to expand globally, with events in Moscow and Dubai already booked. Contact: www.tenorsincognito.com 9. ORIGINAL CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN

Despite many imitators, the original is still the best. The company was involved in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Narnia film premieres, but new for 2006 is The Original Chocolate Printing Company, whereby guests can print images onto chocolate lollipops, business cards and CDs. Contact: www.theoriginalchocolate fountain.com

10. BOGUS BROTHERS

A five-piece group of highly charged musicians, the Bogus Brothers has a reputation that The Corrs' Caroline Corr sums up as "capable of turning any crowd into complete lunatics". Ronan Keating had them flown in for his birthday party and Eddie Jordan commented on their ability to "give a party to remember". Contact: www.bogusbrothers.com

11. DYNAMIC FX

This company provides magicians, mind readers, pickpockets and escape artistes, and creates illusions and magic special effects for events. Clients range from Louis Vuitton to Roman Polanski. "It can judge perfectly the right moment to start a trick or leave people alone," says Portman Building Society events manager John Gully. Contact: www.dynamicfx.co.uk

12. BOLLI DARLING

With an impeccable client list including Swarovski, Bolli Darling provides dazzling shows for creative events, such as the recent Ice Space party at Tower Bridge. Its costumes are made in-house by creative costumiers. "It is truly original and a wonderfully exciting act," enthuses Rhubarb director Lucy Gemmell. Contact: www.bollidarling.co.uk

13. THE DIGITAL PAPARAZZI

For one night guests can feel like A-list celebrities with the help of The Digital Paparazzi. Launched in 1998, the snappers have been regulars on the creative event circuit. Their 1950s-style flashing cameras and journalist's garb make them an exciting and novel entertainment act. Contact: www.digitalpaparazzi.co.uk

14. LITTLER BRITAIN

This pair's impersonations of the Little Britain characters are uncanny. "If I ever need a double I'll be sure to call," quips Little Britain series producer Geoff Posner, and even Matt Lucas from the show admits that "these guys are great". Both are members of Equity and have performed more than 120 UK shows. Contact: www.littlerbritain.com

15. JUMPING FROGS

Boasting a roster of 400 funky acts for every occasion, Jumping Frogs has leapt into 15th position with everything from motorbike stunt shows to contortionists. Among the plethora of events it has been involved in, Microsoft's corporate party in London stands out as one of its most successful to date. Contact: www.jumpingfrogs.co.uk

16. LITTLE VENICE CAKE COMPANY

Owner and creative designer Mich Turner is at the pinnacle of her profession with a list of celebrity clients that includes David Beckham, Madonna, Sir Paul McCartney and Pierce Brosnan. Gordon Ramsay has described Turner as "The Bentley of cake makers". Contact: www.lvcc.co.uk

17. ARCSTREAM

Inventor of the unique PoolSystem, ArcStream can create a vast array of effects from projections, waterscreen spectaculars and pyrotechnic displays to giant video projections and cutting-edge lasers. Previously known for its work in the theatre, ArcStream's clients include Nokia and Peugeot. Contact: www.arcstream.co.uk

18. BACKROW PRODUCTIONS

With acts such as Chicago and the New York debut of Eddie Izzard, it is no surprise to find Back Row in the Top 20. The company offers organisers the chance to have a well-established theatre act at an event. It has produced the Tap Dogs show in more than 250 cities and is touring Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Contact: www.backrow.co.uk

19. PUSH

Ex-model Danielle Leighton started the company aged 19 and six years on is providing models, dancers and entertainers for clients such as Nokia, Playboy and Chelsea FC. Catering company Libi Experience has just joined forces with it to provide a complete party experience. Contactwww.2push.co.uk

20. NEW ENGLISH ROSE

The acclaimed New English Rose string quartet has played on a QE2 world cruise, in the vaults of the Crown Jewels, at Ascot and on the film set of Restoration. It also enjoys regular bookings from Cunard, the Royal Academy of Arts and Kenwood House, and has received a number of invitations to perform abroad. Contact: www.newenglishrose.co.uk.


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