Stage: Putting on the Glitz – Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Durban
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
AFTER recently teaming with the corny and almost annoyingly over-the-top Gino Fabbri in Common and Class, seasoned theatre all-rounder Ian von Memerty returns to Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Thaeatre with a more elegant and fitting partner for his new show.
She is, of course, Ian’s wife of the past 28 years, Vivienne von Memerty, who is originally from Durban and a former South African National Latin and Ballroom Champion, with whom Ian has performed often in shows countrywide.
With their children having now fled the nest, the Von Memertys, in more recent times, have been doing two of the things they love best – travelling and performing together on luxury cruise liners.
Two song and dance shows they have performed on these cruises have been combined for Putting on the Glitz, which runs in Durban only this week, final performances being at 7.30pm tonight and Friday, 3pm and 7.30pm on Saturday, and 3pm on Sunday. Tickets range in price from R145 to R160, with pensioner discounts.
With glittery curtain drops, good use of atmospheric lighting and a black baby grand piano the only stage prop, the show makes use of backing tracks and moves at a brisk pace. Offering an excellent variety of song, humour and dance, the production has a different theme in each half, the first act being the couple’s A Touch of Class show from the ships.
It is a perfect showcase for some fine Ballroom and Latin dance, as well as musical theatre moves, with Vivienne offering some deft footwork in a shimmering parade of attractive costumes, many of which she made herself.
Vivienne also handles some vocals, and although this is definitely not one of her strengths she does a fair job with a slowed-down version of the Meghan Trainor hit, All About That Bass, and later, in duet with Ian, the second half’s lyrically reworked Let’s Do It.
Standout moments all belong to Ian, however, and include the A Handful of Keys and Strictly Come Dancing star singing and dancing through the vocally tricky and amusing genie’s song from Aladdin, Never Had a Friend Like Me.
He also delights with a solid delivery of Memory, from Cats, on piano and vocals; a poignant and well-choreographed delivery of Mr Bojangles; and an excellent, classically tinted piano arrangement of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
A sassy tribute to Chicago, Cabaret and New York, New York composers, John Kander and Fred Ebb, is also a highlight of the first half, which seems a little long and had some on opening night thinking the interval was, in fact, the end of the show.
Act two of Putting on the Glitz is the African Elegance Show the couple staged on the ships, a fun programme that salutes songs of South Africa with items including Hellfire, Home Talk, Waka Waka, Pata Pata, Homeless, Give Me Hope Joanna, Loslappie, the moving Lakushone Langa and even an instrumental rendition, by Ian on the piano, of Toto’s Africa.
It is all certainly glitzy, glamorous and very entertaining – and a particularly strong showcase for the versatility and charm of the couple, Ian in particular.
Booking is at Computicket or tickets may be bought at the theatre on the night.