Cat and the hits of Elton

 

Cat Simoni tips a hat to the music of Elton John in Just Me and Elton, at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre, 42 Cunningham Road, Umbilo, from Friday to Sunday, June 23 to 25. Tickets cost R150.

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STAGE: Cat Simoni: Just Me and Elton (Rhumbelow Theatre Umbilo, Durban)
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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WHAT does Howick-based singer-pianist Cat Simoni have in common with Sir Elton John, besides Just Me and Elton, her salute to the music of the now-70-year-old Brit – a show in Durban this weekend after having been staged at the Pietermaritzburg branch of the Rhumbelow Theatre last weekend?

The answer is Kiki Dee, Elton’s singing partner on the classic mid-1970s duet, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, which Simoni performs in her show with her director, Paul Spence, as her vocal sidekick. (Fortunately, it is Spence’s only appearance, as Simoni does more than fine on her own, thanks very much).

Kiki and Cat got to work together when Simoni spent a decade in London, time in which she entertained at some of the poshest of hotels and other venues. She describes Kiki as sweet and likeable.

Cat has also played one of Sir Elton’s pianos – a baby grand covered in mirrored mosaics, which the star donated to London’s Dorchester Hotel, where Cat often performed.

These anecdotes crop up in Just Me and Elton, a fun show with all the big Elton hits, of special note in that it showcases more of Simoni’s piano playing versatility than usual – no more so than on the opening instrumental, Song for Guy, and in the later, pacy, pounding Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting.

Elton John.

With her customary easy charm and loads of panache and skill, she offers a captivating, low-fuss but elegant entertainment featuring classic songs associated with a man who has sold more than 300 million records and has had more than 50 Top 40 hits.

Elton, of course, also holds the record for the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK and US. It is the 1997 re-recording of Candle in the Wind, the better original version of which, lyrically linked to Marilyn Monroe rather than Princess Diana, is also featured in the show.

Appearing at a black baby grand in a sparkling gown, then in a mini with “electric boots” for the second half of the show, Cat offers minimal chit-chat, preferring instead to deliver a good cross-section of the Elton favourites.

Among them are Daniel, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me, Nikita, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,  Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word and a good mesh of Blue Eyes and I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.

Also featured are a fun Bennie and the Jets and Pinball Wizard (with some audience participation), as well as Your Song, Tiny Dancer, Honky Cat, Rocket Man and Can You Feel the Love Tonight from The Lion King, Cat’s encore piece.

Just Me and Elton will have performances at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24, and at 2pm and 6.30pm on Sunday, June 25. Tickets cost R150 each and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland at 082 499 8636.

Note that one can take along eats, but drinks have to be bought at the theatre pub. Light meals and snacks are also available at the venue, where seating is at tables of eight. The venue opens 90 minutes before the show starts.


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