Versatile trio with a classy cabaret

Evan Roberts, Shylo Pereira and Samantha Landers in The Carpenters.

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Stage: The Carpenters – Rhumbelow Theatre, Tina’s Hotel, Kloof
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DURBAN is so lucky to have a cabaret trio as sophisticated, versatile, polished and pleasing as that comprising excellent Durban vocalists Samantha Landers and Shylo Pereira, and singer-pianist Evan Roberts. Long may they keep the shows coming!

Their new cabaret, a tribute to the music of the brother and sister team of Karen and Richard Carpenter, is a great choice to present over Valentine’s month, the American duo being noted for some of the best ballads ever recorded, along with lashings of good pop, of course.

I can remember seeing at least four previous cabaret tributes to The Carpenters over the years in Durban but none has come close to matching the slickness and magic, and the fine vocals, of this one.

The show follows the Durban trio’s superb That’s Life, staged last year, and is every bit as elegant and enjoyable. It is a two-act programme so filled with classic songs performed beautifully that it whizzes by in what seems like an instant.

During their 14-year career, The Carpenters recorded 10 albums,

Both blonde Shylo and brunette Samantha have wonderful voices that blend effortlessly and effectively under the astute musical direction of Evan, whose talent at the piano, third-voice harmony, some deft arrangements and just the right amount of patter add immeasurably to the  proceedings.

Even with a touch of the flu on opening night, Shylo shone, opening the show on lead vocals for We’ve Only Just Begun which seques into her joining her co-stars for a spirited There’s a Kind of Hush and a lovely For All We Know.

The women alternate on lead vocals, with Evan stepping into his own spotlight for a version of Goodbye to Love that suits his talk-sing vocal style. He also gets a solo halfway through the show in a spot of humour milked from his lyrical reworking (with an Indian accent) of Close to You, a glorious ballad with some of the corniest lyrics every written.

There is no weak moment in the show, but plenty of highlights – not least Samantha’s powerful renditions of Superstar, A Song For You, Desperado, This Masquerade and Yesterday Once More.

Shylo’s standout moments include Solitaire, Ticket to Ride and The Rainbow Connection (best known as Kermit the Frog’s song), while all three are great on harmonies throughout, spreading cheer with a lively delivery of Breaking Up is Hard to Do that follows Evan discussing some weird divorce cases he has heard of.

Other songs featured include I Won’t Last a Day Without You, I Can’t Smile Without You, It’s Gonna Take Some Time This Time, Rainy Days and Mondays, Only Yesterday, Please Mr Postman, Top of the World, Sing, Jambalaya, Calling Occupants and Sweet, Sweet Smile.

The show runs until February 24 – and it comes highly recommended. It is staged at 8pm every night Wednesday to Saturday, and at 2pm on Sundays. Tickets cost R150 (R130 for pensioners and students with cards). Booking is at Computicket or by calling Roland at 082 499 8636.

A scene from The Carpenters at the Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof.

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