Elegant salute to Vera Lynn

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….……………
Stage: A Nightingale Sang… A 
Tribute to Vera Lynn – Hexagon Theatre, Pietermartizburg (2pm Saturday, June 3)

REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………

AFTER a string of varied showband tribute shows, is was good to see Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre recently again  turning the spotlight on a music revue proper, the elegance and entertainment value of which we had not seen in this city since Daniele Pascal and Jonathan Roxmouth last visited this venue.

London-born Vera Lynn was known as The Forces Sweetheart during World War 2, when her singing had an enormous following.

Her popularity continues to this day, and she celebrated her 100th birthday in March 20, three days before releasing a new album, Vera Lynn 100, featuring duets with Alfie Boe, Aled Jones and others. Quite remarkable!

In putting together this commendable tribute show, award-winning Durban darling Lisa Bobbert, singer-pianist Evan Roberts and singer-actor Anthony Stonier have come up with a slick, entertaining and informative salute to the woman who was born Vera Welch, but opted for her grandmother’s maiden name when it came to choosing her showbiz moniker.

Named, in 2000, as the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century, Lynn includes among her many hit songs White Cliffs of Dover, I’ll Be Seeing You, We’ll Meet Again, A Nightgale Sang in Berkley Square and the 1952 success, Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart, which is on record as the first single by a British performer to top the US charts.

Enjoying only one performance at the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg, at 2pm on Saturday, June 3, the show features many of Lynn’s biggest hits, but also dips into the war-time songbook for other popular songs of the era.

Opening with Evans arriving on a stage bare but for a piano and bench, set against a backdrop of parted, red-velvet curtains, the show has him delivering the opening lyrics of Vera, the 1979 Pink Floyd song, which references Lynn.

We then get Bobbert – beautifully dressed throughout the show – delivering a variety of golden oldies, among them Anniversary Waltz, You’ll Never Know, We’ll Meet Again and other big hits, as well as the lesser known, to me anyway, Room 504 and fun Be Like a Kettle and Sing.

In between the singing, Bobbert chats, with London accent, as Lynn, sketching this living legend’s life and times, often flitting between humour and pathos. She is a constant delight, exuding a very easy charm.

Every now and again, Stonier arrives to offer further narration, sing in duet with Bobbert or offer solos that include We’ll Gather Lilacs and crowd-pleasing renditions of If You Love Me (Really Love Me) and London Pride.

He has a strong and pleasing voice but, on opening night, came over as a little nervous and awkward, not helped by a few fluffs of his lines. One hopes he has sorted out those hiccups by now.

Lisa Bobbert as Vera Lynn.

Roberts, a great pianist, also has solo spots, his unusual but appealing voice wrapping around A Kiss To Build a Dream On and It Had to Be You, as well as medleys with his co-stars that include such jovial favourites as Side By Side, Roll Out the Barrel and This is the Army.

Making use of the recorded voices of Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, A Nightingale Sang… A Tribute to Vera Lynn is not only a great salute to an icon, and the resilience of the British public during wartime, but a trip down memory lane that deftly offers a glimpse of the appeal and personality of one of the world’s most loved entertainers.

Tickets cost R110 each and booking is at webtickets.co.za

 


6 thoughts on “Elegant salute to Vera Lynn

  1. Having seen the Show yesterday I can recommend it as a “don’t miss” as it appealed to both my elderly parents and myself. Beautifully presented music sung by truly talented artists – congratulations to all in the Show.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All I can say Billy is that even if Anthony forgot a few lines I thought he was fantastic, what a beautiful voice. What can I say about Lisa she’s the best and the surprise was Evan’s singing. His piano playing is wow. I haven’t enjoyed a show like this in many a long time. Three cheers to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s