Scrapbook: ’90s panto & musicals

Scrapbook memories… every now and then I dip into scrapbooks that piled up during my 24 years as Arts Editor of The Mercury newspaper in Durban and, just for fun, dig out reviews and interviews from yesteryear. Today I revisit an interview from December 1999 and a review from October 1998
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BY BILLY SUTER

BEING blown over in a porta loo during a wind storm at the Splashy Fen Music Festival near Underberg is one of the most embarrassing moments experienced by former Durban singer-actress Carol Trench.

That is one of the fun recollections gleaned from my early interview with the bubbly, award-winning singer-actress, which appeared in The Mercury in December 1999 – see article above.

Carol and I had chatted to promote her starring role in that year’s naughty festival season mini panto in Durban – Jack and the Big Stalk, which was staged at the now-defunct Playhouse Cellar.

Pictured above with Carol is Greg King, who played Jack. He has, of course, since gone on to be an award-winning set and costume designer.

Carol, who has since married, moved to Norway and become a mother, sometimes returns to the Durban stage on invitation from the city’s KickstArt Theatre company. She was seen in Snoopy The Musical and was last here to play the amusing, pouting queen in Sleeping Beauty, KickstArt’s 2016 festive season success.

Pictured below is my October 1998 review of a show I loved that year. Staged at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, it was devised, directed and choreographed by Bryan Hill, who is now head honcho at Johannesburg’s Teatro theatre at Montecasino.

Titled New York State of Mind, it was a reworking and update of a show staged at the Playhouse some years before, and starred singer-vocalists Samantha Peo, Luciano Zuppa, Tarryn Sudding and Lance Maron, all of whom have, of course, gone on to bigger things.

A standout for me was Peo, who was a judge on the local version of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, and has starred in Cabaret, Chicago and in the name role in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has now been cast in the ambitious new South African stage musical, Calling Me Home.

Sexily and elegantly costumed, New York State of Mind was a collage of 46 show tunes that was sophisticated and great fun. Wouldn’t an updated revival with the same team be great?


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