Stage: That’s Life – 2.30pm on June 3 at Cowan House Theatre, Cowan House school, 11 Dennis Shepstone Drive, Hilton
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
STRONG pats on the back for Roland Stansell and his Rhumbelow Theatre team for having presented three shows in a row that have been a good cut above the rest.
The Reals’ Poetry in Music, Dave Starke’s Tribute to Leonard Cohen and the cherry on top, An Evening with Jonathan Roxmouth, all seen at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof in recent times, were all in a class of their own, more thoughtful, sophisticated and theatrical in presentation than what is usually performed on the Rhumbelow circuit.
To this list we can now add That’s Life, which ran at the Kloof venue in April and will be staged again at 2.30pm on Sunday, June 3, at the Cowan House Theatre at Cowan House school, 11 Dennis Shepstone Drive, Hilton.. Tickets cost R60 each and booking is by clicking here: https://www.cowanhouse.co.za/sundaysoiree
Featuring versatile Durban pianist Evan Roberts, who backed Roxmouth in his last show, That’s Life stars former The Voice SA contestant Samantha Landers (also seen in The Reals’ Poetry in Music).
It also stars someone I have not seen on the local circuit before, Durban vocal coach Shylo Pereira, a 2010 Idols contestant, a blonde with a beautiful, versatile voice and a charming stage presence.
Pereira, who is also adept on violin and piano, talents not showcased in That’s Life, is quite an exciting find, and I hope we get to see a lot more of her on local stages.
Both she and the amiable Landers, a delight in her comfort zone with character songs and ballads featured in this show, are in excellent voice. Each shines in demanding solo performances and in harmony with one another in a production making use of excellent musical arrangements devised with Roberts.
The trio has come up with an elegant and hugely enjoyable cabaret that is a must, especially if you are a fan of show tunes and popular songs lent new life through novel interpretations.
Loosely based on a narrative of women friends whose relationship is rocked when both are wooed by the same man, and who later reconcile, the show unfolds on a small stage. The piano is positioned centrestage, flanked on one side by a small table with a candle and wine glasses, and on the other by a hatstand with a coat, hat and feather boa. It is effectively lit by Sarah Claxton.
Opening with three wonderful, very well delivered songs from the musical Wicked – What is This Feeling, Popular and I’m Not That Girl – the show moves at a brisk pace and covers a wide spectrum of well-known and lesser-known songs from shows as well as charts old and recent.
Both Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl and Britney Spears’s Oops, I Did It Again get a slinky, jazzy treatment, as does George Michael’s Careless Whisper, while the lesser known comic numbers 15 Pounds Away From My Love, The Girl in 14G and the jaunty Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Like to Howl (from the TV musical series Smash) add to the smiles.
Pereira is particularly good in quieter moments – a haunting Losing My Mind from Stephen Sondheim’s Follies and the poignant The Story by Brandi Carlile.
Landers delights with the belting They Just Keep Moving the Line (also from Smash) and in duet with Pereira for I Feel Pretty/Unpretty, Don’t Rain On My Parade, You’ve Got a Friend and Cheek to Cheek.
Roberts is an infinitely better pianist than he is a vocalist, but he has an interesting vocal style, very much his own. He contributes a few solo songs here, the best being his gutsy This is a Man’s World and If It Moves You. I wasn’t quite as thrilled with his rendition of Pure Imagination.
That’s Life is a show that comes highly recommended Treat yourself and some friends!