Merry mix from a fun band

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STAGE: Mr Bojangles, Dance – Rhumbelow Theatre, Umbilo
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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FORMED as Manna at Durban’s Market restaurant about 12 years ago, and having undergone name and membership changes over the years, Beat-Route is a colourful music group that never fails to raise a smile, get the head nodding, shoulders shrugging and toes tapping.

The band still maintains three original members – upright-bass-player Logan Byrne, trumpeter and frontman Daniel Sheldon, and guitarist Gerald Sloan – but Sloan is not among the lineup for the current showband entertainment at this Umbilo venue in a MOTH shellhole in Cunningham Road, off Bartle Road.

hare
Beat-Route sax man Tom Hare.

Among the team there are Daniel and Logan, along with the brilliant, bubbly Tom Hare on saxes, young Riley Giandhari on drums and delightful David Langley on keyboards. Sharing lead vocals are David’s vivacious wife, Kerry Lee Langley, and Zoe Masuku, who was alone on vocals when Beat-Route last performed at this venue.

Most recently seen in Durban as a part of the audacious Over-Exposed show presented by David Gouldie, Beat-Route has put together a quirky, hugely entertaining mix of jazz, pop, dixie and ragtime music for Mr Bojangles, Dance.

Items are linked with minimal patter and maximum energy, and we are also treated to an amusing interlude or two involving, by turn, pink panties, cow bells and Valentine winks.

It’s just sad that booking, in general, for Rhumbelow shows has been poor lately – perhaps a sign of the times and people tightening their belts. A crying shame, though, because the venue puts on a great variety and high standard of productions.

Please, Durbs, support the Rhumbelow – the last independent theatre we have in the city – and discover the treat of this show, in particular.

Mr Bojangles, Dance opens with a vibrant instrumental, then goes straight into a cool arrangement of the popular show title song, with both vocalists sharing the stage.

logan
Beat-Route bassist Logan Byrne.

Early show highlights come with the jovial instrumental Tin Roof Blues, dominated by sax and trumpet, and the crowd-pleasing jazz interpretation of The House of The Rising Son, with both women on vocals again.

The best first-half moment, though, is an exuberant honky-tonk, ragtime instrumental showcasing sax, drums and, in particular, piano. It begins with a blast of Marvin Hamlisch’s The Entertainer and skips into a delightful romp.

After that we get Zoe delivering the Look of Love before Riley takes an (overlong) drum solo before the interval.

The second half opens well with an interpretation of Hugh Masekela’s Grazing in the Grass, again with the woman sharing vocals; and goes on to showcase Zoe delivering Cry Me a River and Kerry Lee performing My Funny Valentine and At Last. The show closes with the whole band whooping it up with the popular  Hello Dolly! and Pharell Williams’s Happy.

I personally found the second half a little long and the production would benefit from some pruning. Perhaps lose the unnecessary second (and lengthy) drum solo?

Remaining performances of Mr Bojangles, Dance are at 2pm this Sunday (February 19), 8pm next Friday (February 24 ) and 2pm next Sunday (February 26). Tickets cost R150 each. To book, or for more information, email Roland Stansell at roland@stansell.za.net


2 thoughts on “Merry mix from a fun band

  1. I agree, our party of eight all loved the evening. We are regular supporters at the Rhumbelow even though we travel from La Lucia. I really hope this venue doesn’t close.

    Like

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