BILLY SUTER chats to award-winning Durban singer-actress MARION LOUDON, who recently performed in Pietermaritzburg with Dave Monks in a revival of their Swinging ’60s show. She chats about that show and her latest, Gotta Lotta Soul, which is at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo, Durban, from Friday to Sunday (July 21 to 23). It is the ultimate party show, one of the best seen at this venue. See my review under MUSIC on this site. Call Roland at 082 499 836 to book and for more information.
WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT PERFORMING IN THE ‘SWINGING 60S’ SHOW?
I think the best part is seeing the effect the music has on the people in the audience. As they hear a song they often haven’t heard in decades, they immediately reconnect with it… and you can almost see them transported back to a time in their past. They sing along or sway. Sometimes they even shed a tear.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO SEE THE SHOW?
I would tell them that they will be in for a wonderful trip down memory lane. They really, truly, can just sit back and relax for this one… and I know we will perform all the tunes that will remind them of their youth.
TELL US ABOUT “GOTTA LOTTA SOUL”.
It is a tribute to soul music with some great songs! I perform alongside the incredible soul man himself, Percy Smith (who, incidentally, was the person I did my very first gig with, for Themi Venturas… in 1998 in Empangeni). Gotta Lotta Soul also features Calli Thomson, Jill Murray Brown, Andy Turrell and Jason Kylen.
Also, as a guest of The Reals, I have a week-long run of our Fleetwood Mac tribute show at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof in the last week of July. Then I’ll be performing in KickstArt’s December pantomime Sinbad the Sailor, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre… which I’m really looking forward to.
CHALLENGES AND REWARDS OF TEACHING SPEECH AND DRAMA AT GLENWOOD BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL, WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN TEACHING SINCE THE START OF THIS YEAR?
It’s been a year full of changes for me – January saw me starting a new job as a drama teacher at Glenwood Boys’ High – marking my first time in a classroom since the 1990s. Also, I got married a week after that.
Teaching has been the most incredible experience. I had no idea how much these kids would end up teaching me. It’s been challenging at times, but each term gets a little easier.
The boys are so full of energy, opinions and excitement that you are pretty drained by the end of the day. But I’m definitely going to try my best to get the best performances out of them, and to teach them just how important it is to have a healthy balance between sport and culture, as well as instil a love of live theatre and music. These boys are, afterall, the next generation of theatre-goers.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT ON STAGE?
There are so many… one was during the run of the KickstArt production of Cabaret at Durban’s Sneddon Theatre a few years ago, when the show was sold to an all-Jewish audience, many of whom had family members that lived during the Holocaust.
I remember a few moments during that performance, especially during the Nazi scenes, when emotions were obviously dredged up for the audience, of the horror of that time.
There was such a tangible atmosphere in the theatre that night, and people were very affected by the performance. It was a great reminder of how powerful the medium of live theatre can be.
WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?
Energetic, passionate, hard-working, people-pleasing, loyal.
YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?
It was at Ushaka Marine World. I was singing with Francois Hardy on the outdoor stage at the Upper Deck and a pigeon, sitting above on a rope, decided to relieve itself.
The parcel landed on my head and down my shoulder mid-song and the audience erupted into fits of laughter. Waitresses ran to my aid with piles of paper serviettes. It was very hard to regain composure after that incident.
THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU HAVE MET – AND WHO WOULD YOU GIVE GOLD TO MEET?
Ronan Keating. I was one of his three backing vocalists – along with Chloe Clark and Tammy Saville – when he appeared at Durban’s Starlight Pops concert, so I got to meet him. I would love to meet Kristin Chenoweth, star of Broadway musical theatre.
HOBBIES, PASTIMES AND FAVOURITE THINGS?
The beach, volunteering at the SPCA as a dog-walker, Lindt chocolate, sushi and anything that sparkles.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING SOMEONE HAS ASKED OF YOU?
“Excuse me, were you miming in the show or were you really singing?”
WHAT HAS BEEN A HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
Performing in KickstArt’s production of Into the Woods at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. It was very special to me as I performed in it while I was studying drama at Natal Technikon. It was so wonderful to revisit it.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS AND PHOBIAS?
I’m frightened of snakes and big leguaans or monitor lizards. They send me into an instant panic!
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE FICTION HEROES… AND REAL-LIFE HEROES?
James Bond… and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR, MEAL, BAND, ALBUM, TV SHOW AND MOVIE?
Red, sushi, Queen, Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, Nashville and Forrest Gump.
WHAT THINGS DO YOU MOST MISS FROM CHILDHOOD?
Climbing trees and building tree houses.
THE MOST FRIGHTENING THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?
I witnessed a robbery in La Lucia Mall which really scared me. I completely froze.
Also frightening was when I was mugged in town. Someone attempted to break my car window while I was stopped at traffic lights.
On another occasion, a house I shared with others in London was raided unexpectedly by customs officials who were looking for illegal immigrants.
WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS’? AND WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘ABSOLUTE NO-NOS’?
Fab things are glitter, musicals, friends, dinner parties and music. No-nos would include Crocs, judgmental opinions, littering, cruelty to animals, and five-day cricket test matches.
FIVE OF YOUR ALL-TIME FAVOURITE SONGS?
Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins, Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan, Even After All by Findley Quaye and Stop This Train by John Mayer.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST PAINFUL THING YOU HAVE EVER ENDURED?