BY BILLY SUTER
SHOWS varying from an elegant salute to Ol’ Blue Eyes to a dazzling look at men in tutus and a celebration of fine guitar work are among productions scheduled to visit South African stages soon.
Sinatra and Me, featuring British performer Richard Shelton, who has been described by The Los Angeles Times as “one of the world’s finest Sinatra interpreters”, is to tour the country soon, starting with performances at The Rockwood Theatre at Sibaya Casino, near Umhlanga, from March 12 to 17 (Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm). Tickets for these performances cost R200.
Shelton is an award-winning actor and singe rwhose show comes directly from the West End and Los Angeles. He will be accompanied on stage by Adam Howard’s 17-piece Joburg Big Band.
Performances have also been scheduled for Pretoria’s Atterbury Theatre (March 20), Johannesburg’s Joburg Theatre (March 21 to 24), East London’s Guild Theatre (March 27), Port Elizabeth’s Boardwalk Casino (March 29) and Cape Town’s Paul Cluver Amphitheatre, Elgin (March 30). All bookings are online via WebTickets.
“I’m very excited to be making my first visit to South Africa, and being in the position to combine my two passions, travel and the music of Frank Sinatra and a big band. It is the perfect way to make what I hope will be the first of many visits,” says Shelton.
“The show focuses on the wonderful music of Sinatra with hits including I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Fly Me to the Moon, It Was a Very Good Year and One For My Baby, as well as lesser known hits, including a very intimate rendition of My Foolish Heart.
“The show is brought together with a narrative that looks at my time starring as Sinatra in London’s West End, to the synchronicity between our lives, borne out by many incredible coincidences in LA – including how his tuxedo literally walked into my life, a fact which was verified by Sir Roger Moore (James Bond) on live TV.
“I was also one of the last people to be inside Sinatra’s last home as it was being demolished. It was completely by chance. We also have original music in the show, including the title track scored for a big-band arrangement, Sinatra and Me, which we recorded in East West Studios, LA, where Sinatra recorded My Way and A Very Good Year.”
Shelton has performed for Prince Charles at Windsor Castle, for Elton John at his White Tie and Tiara Ball, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Big Band, at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London and on countless international TV and radio shows.
As an actor, he is known to British TV audiences for playing series regular Dr Adam Forsythe in the TV show Emmerdale. He recently made his US TV debut playing Mr Benson in House of Lies.
Colin Law, executive producer of Ticket to the Moon Managements is bringing Shelton to South Africa, and is also touring a show titled Guitar Wizards.
“We are thrilled to bring to South Africa the first show in our world tour concert series, entitled Guitar Wizards. The tour will kick off at the Joburg Theatre on February 28,” he says.
The show features South African Music Award-winning guitar duo CH2, and 18-year-old Polish guitar sensation Marcin Patrzalek, who has an unprecedented internet following.
A glorious concoction of sounds and style, the programme will be filled with lots of popular takes on the music of Metallica, Michael Jackson and compositions from the pen of CH2. The evening will also contain some signature classic guitar pieces, like the theme of the Adagio movement of the Concerto de Aranjuez and Asturias.
Tickets are priced from R200 and performances are scheduled for The Fringe at The Joburg Theatre in Johannesburg (8pm nightly from February 27 to March 2); Johannesburg’s National School of the Arts Festival (7pm on March 6); Pretoria’s Atterbury Theatre (8pm on March 8): and Cape Town’s Paul Cluver Amphitheatre, Elgin (8pm on March 9). Booking for all shows is via WebTickets.
Guitar Wizards is a concept, created by Corneille Hutten of the award-winning international, but proudly South African, guitar duo CH2. The idea is to fuse various guitar styles, from Flamenco to finger-style guitar-playing… all played with great precision on acoustic guitars.
CH2 has been top of the musical ladder for the past 18 years in South Africa. The team has produced 11 albums, including the best-selling and Grammy entry PING, and the recent Insomnia – The Chapel Master.
With their flawless, effortless technique and pulsating rhythms, they showcase what can be done on only two guitars, classical guitars, and create a very exciting instrumental pop sound while mimicking drum sounds and bass guitar all at the same time.
Patrzalek is a finger-style guitarist who won the biggest Polish TV talent show, Must Be The Music. He is noted for his guitar arrangements and compositions which gather millions of views online.
His music background began with classical guitar, which he started playing at the age of 10. He won many prestigious classical international competitions including the Joaquin Rodrigo Festival. He then became interested in flamenco music, studying it under the guidance of Spanish virtuoso Carlos Pinana.
Shortly afterwards, he discovered yet another style – acoustic finger-style. It was the style he reckoned most exciting and fitting for his approach to music.
Men in Tutus is another touring production by Ticket to the Moon Management. The show is an all-male comedy ballet danced by 19 prima dancers from seven countries.
Humour in classical ballet is hard to find, and this is one reason for the enduring popularity of this troupe of male ballerinas. Direct from New York, Les Ballets Eloelle’s latest international production is said to be rated as spectacular and hilarious.
Men In Tutus will open at the Teatro, MonteCasino, on April 11 and will run for four performances only, until it moves to Cape Town’s Artscape from April 18 to 21.
“Classical ballet likes to take itself seriously, which may explain why you don’t get many comedies on the ballet stage. Yet those of us who love tutus and tiaras also like nothing better than to laugh with the hairy man-ballerinas,” says a show spokesman.
Under the direction of artistic director Victor Trevino, Men In Tutus has just returned from a hugely successful Australian tour. It was described by the New York Times as “artistically brilliant, absolutely hilarious… freshly funny, sweet-tempered and inventive”.
Tickets are priced from R200 and are available at Computicket.
Also scheduled for a national tour soon after touring internationally is the celebrated Kander and Ebb musical, Chicago, with a South African cast including Samantha Peo, Carmen Pretorius and Craig Urbani.
It will be staged at Cape Town’s Artscape from March 15 to April 14 and at Johannesburg’s Teatro at Montecasino from April 20 to May 26. Booking is at Computicket.