SHOW: Dolphins By Starlight – uShaka Marine World, Durban
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
NOW in its 13th year, the annual Dolphins By Starlight Christmas spectacle featuring sea creatures, singers, musicians and dancers always offers a fun froth of festivity, and this year proves no exception.
Running at the marine park’s dolphin arena at 7pm nightly, only until December 13, the show is hosted this year by Durban singer Clive Gumede, who opens the entertainment with a jaunty version of Jingle Bells, backed by the Durban Gospel Choir and a band led by Burton Naidoo.
They are perched on a stage in the arena, to the left of which is a giant screen showing close-ups of the performers, and to the right of which is a display of massive Christmas gifts under a decorated and lit Christmas tree.
Popular local singer Samantha Landers, rising soprano star Slindo Zondo and the excellent Quattro Femmes String Quartet are also among the cast. a number of child performers also feature, but on video footage.
I loved the elaborate operatic number by Zondo, whose gold frock fills the full width of the stage while an earial ballet takes place in a suspended, ring-shaped, swing above a podium in the auditorium.
Also of note is a hip-hop version of The Nutcracker which has dancers springing from giant gift boxes. Great fun.
There’s also a fun moment in which Superman, a Power Ranger, Snow White, a Smurf, a Minion and other characters sing and dance, while a crowd favourite is a reworked Let It Go from Frozen, retitled Let It Snow, for a sequence in which real flakes fill the auditorium.
Songs performed include The First Noel, Joy to the World, God Bless Africa and reworked versions of Can’t Stop the Feeling and Happy.
The show offers a tale in which early test-flights show that Santa’s reindeer have been unable to make his sleigh hover more than 20cm off the ground. The North Pole News has reported that this failure to launch may be as a result of low Christmas spirit, as well as folks forgetting the true meaning of Christmas.
Santa is so concerned that he decideds to send his chief investigative elves, Andy Alibastar and Polly Peppermint, to uShaka Marine World to investigate.
Father Christmas (Rowan Bartlett), of course, also makes an appearance – but the stars of the show remain the dolphins, which appear in varying combinations to swim, jump, twirl, chatter and wave, at one stage lifting a ball in the air, with a special closing spot reserved for solo activity from the large Gambit.
Tickets cost R170 for adults and R140 for children. They are available at Computicket or via uShaka’s online ticketing. Under-threes get in free. For more information phone (031) 328 8000.