Stage: Jukebox Hits – Rockwood Theatre, Sibaya Casino, near Umhlanga
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
PRODUCTION No 4 (excluding one-offs) at Durban’s newest supper theatre, Jukebox Hits also happens to be the best showband entertainment to date at this elegant and inviting three-tier venue since it opened last November in the former Krakatoa nightclub premises.
Under the watchful eye of manager, show producer and director Andrew Webster, and his wife Cindy, the venue has continued to grow in popularity, and it is heartening to report that the most recent ’80s tribute show there proved one of the most profitable yet at the theatre, which has a bigger sister venue in Pretoria.
Jukebox Hero has all the makings of doing even better business than the ’80s show as it had already attracted a lot of booking interest and, in my opinion, has the finest vocal line-up I’ve seen at the Rockwood since it opened.
Webster has also taken care to offer something for everyone in choosing some of the most requested songs of all time – hits covering everything from swing and early rock ’n’ roll to pop, rock, reggae, disco, diva belters and a touch of operatic ballad. There’s even a few spots of subtle comedy.
The 10-member cast is headed by five fine vocalists – Durban talents Percy Smith and Liesl Coppin, versatile charmer Kyle Matthews and the excellent Riyaan Cornelius and Janine Cupido.
In addition the show’s ace lead guitarist, Sheldon von Grimm, and bassist Kelly Joubert also step into the spotlight for solo vocals – and each has a good set of pipes. Sheldon shines with Kings of Leon’s ubiquitous Sex on Fire and Kelly knocks it out of the park with Anyway You Want It, Beat It and Titanium.
Also among the band line-up for Jukebox Hero are Durban’s Calli Thomson on keyboards and local lad Paul Cassells on drums.
Popular Kirsty van der Linde, who is among the cast of Rock ’n’ Roll Nerds: Piano Greats at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof this weekend, will join the Jukebox Hits cast on July 19, taking over from Johan van der Molen.
Nicely paced with some good choreography and attractive costumes, the show opens with the cast performing the ebullient Jumping Jive, then has Percy performing The Twist, followed by the men performing old favourites Blue Suede Shoes, Jailhouse Rock and Johnny B Goode.
Liesl, who starred in this theatre’s opening show, Knowing Me, Knowing You, makes her first appearance in Jukebox Hits performing the elegant Etta James ballad, At Last. She sparkles throughout, most notably in a well-costumed nod to Lady Gaga (Poker Face and Bad Romance), a gutsy I Love Rock ’n’ Roll and as a silver-haired mummy in the fun Thriller routine that closes the first half. She’s also fun saluting Donna Summer and Diana Ross in a disco medley with Janine.
Janine is the undisputed vocal powerhouse of the show, stealing top spots in the programme with a brilliant rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing, Beyonce’s Crazy in Love and, in duet with Riyaan, the rousing ballad, The Prayer ,which prompted many to stand and applaud the night I was in.
The affable and sef-effacing Percy’s highlights include What a Wonderful World, Sweat and Say You, Say Me, while Kyle, also acting as amiable MC, does a fine job, with Liesl, with Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. He also impresses with his Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, and with the other guys in an amusing tribute to boy bands of the 1990s and a comedic interlude with Time to Say Goodbye.
Jukebox Hits also features hits associated with Queen and Mango Groove, as well as the chart-toppers Don’t Stop Believing, Uptown Funk, Cheap Thrills, I’ve Got a Feeling, End of the Road, Uptown Girl, Def Leppard’s Let’s Get Rocked and, of course, Foreigner’s Jukebox Hero.
To book tickets for the show, which runs until September 2, phone (031) 161 0000. Thursday night tickets cost R99, while Friday and Saturday night tickets cost R130 each. On Sundays, with adults at R130 a ticket, children under the age of 12 get in free and pensioners pay half price.