BILLY SUTER chats to seasoned singer PERCY SMITH who, after recent Barnyard Theatre performances countrywide, is newly settled again in Durban and performing in the new show at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, Umbilo. It’s Gotta Lotta Soul, also featuring vocalist Marion Loudon and musicians Andy Turrell, Jill Murraybrown and Calli Thomson. Performances are at 8pm today (July 14) and 2pm on Sunday (July 16), then again at 8pm next Friday and Saturday (July 21 and 22) and 2pm and 6.30pm next Sunday (July 23). Tickets cost R150 each. Book at Computicket are phone Roland at 082 499 8636.
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT “WHOLE LOTTA SOUL”, YOUR ROLE IN IT AND WHAT YOU WOULD SAY TO PEOPLE TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO SEE IT. ALSO, IS THERE A STORYLINE?
The show is a mini explosion of popular soul music from the 1950s through to the 1970s. I am supposed to be the ‘soul man’ of the ensemble. There is no real storyline, just a bit of banter for good measure… and a whole lotta singing.
SOME EXAMPLES OF THE SONGS FEATURED IN THE SHOW?
We have songs like My Girl, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, a Supremes medley, Knock on Wood, Rescue Me, Respect and Midnight Hour, to name a few. We also have a couple of novelty, dress-up kind of numbers from greats like James Brown and Ray Charles.
YOUR “WHOLE LOTTA SOUL” CO-STAR, DURBAN’S MARION LOUDON, HAS SAID THE FIRST PRO SHOW SHE APPEARED IN WAS ALONGSIDE YOU. DO YOU RECALL THAT PRODUCTION AND THAT EXPERIENCE?
Yes… it was a great show and we made some good memories. It was a Themi Venturas production – Cantina Tequila – at St Thomas Road in Musgrave, way back in 1998, I think.
WHEN LAST DID YOU APPEAR ON A STAGE IN DURBAN – AND IN WHAT?
Last September. It was in the Barnyard Theatre’s Amadeus Rocks.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO, SHOWBIZ-WISE, MOST RECENTLY – AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED THESE DAYS?
I completed my long relationship with the Barnyard Theatre in March and have been in Durbs since. I guess I am trying, yet again, to make Durban my base.
WHERE AND WHEN WERE YOU BORN – AND WHAT MARKED YOUR FIRST BREAK IN SHOWBIZ? ALSO, WHAT WERE YOU DOING, WORK-WISE, BEFORE THAT POINT?
I was born on December 9, 1969, in Wentworth, Durban. My first pro gig was in Grease at the Playhouse in 1994 – and before that I was actually a security guard. LOL.
YOU WERE A REGULAR AT THE PLAYHOUSE CELLAR IN ITS HEYDAY – HOW MANY SHOWS DID YOU APPEAR IN THERE, AND WHAT WERE AMONG THE STANDOUTS FOR YOU?
I performed in five productions there, if I am not mistaken. Standout shows were definitely a Phil Collins tribute, One More Night, and a little 1970s rock show called You’re So Vain.
WHAT ARE AMONG OTHER CAREER HIGHLIGHTS?
Performing for Nelson Mandela; performing on the Costa Concordia cruise liner’ and playing Jimbo in the Hamish Kyd production of Jimbo the Hob .
WHAT WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?
Happy. Fun. Honest. Mild-mannered (only recently)./
WHAT ARE TWO THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF (HOWEVER TRIVIAL) THAT PEOPLE ARE UNLIKELY TO KNOW?
I am a great cook and I hate cigarettes.
YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?
Forgetting to underdress a pair of boxer shorts in a drag number. I was caught with my Jockeys on stage.
WHAT THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘VASTLY OVERRATED’?
Idols, chocolate and blonde supermodels.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING SOMEONE HAS SAID OF YOU?
“:With a voice like yours, you should have stuck to security guarding”.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS AND PHOBIAS ?
Touching snakes and losing someone close to me.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY THINGS FROM DIFFERENT PEOPLE, WHAT AND WHO WOULD THEY BE?
I would love Louis Armstrong’s voice, Dawn Selby’s music knowledge, Jacob Zuma’s resignation and Donald Trump’s resignation.
WHAT IS THE WORST TROUBLE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN IN?
Loads of stuff with both my ex-wives.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED – AND WHO GAVE IT?
“If it ain’t broke, don’t try fixing it”. Themi Venturas told me that.
WHAT THINGS DO YOU MOST MISS FROM CHILDHOOD?
Playing soccer until my chest burnt.
WHAT THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS’? AND WHAT THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘ABSOLUTE NO-NOS?
Absolutely fab… British football, racehorses, doowop music and British comedy. Absolute no-nos are cheap undergarments, B-grade movies, cigarettes and vain people.
THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER HAD? AND THE WORST?
The best was being told I looked like George Benson. The worst was being told that I look like LL Cool J.