When life’s a drag – and fun

A scene from the opening number of Adieu, at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo until Sunday.

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Stage: Adieu – Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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THE swansong production for Durban’s Family Players comedy drag lip-sync group, now a quartet after having had a number of members flow through its ranks over the past three decades or so, Adieu is a tinselly hodge-podge of a show that attracted a good-size, appreciative audience on opening night tonight (May 24).

Scheduled for final performances at 8pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday (May 25 and 26), the show offers something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue as the ‘boys’ go through their paces in heels, frocks, wigs and makeup for one last season.

Adieu, while largely a collection of varied songs, mostly amusing and lip-synced by the seasoned Derek Pearce, Allan Quihampton, Greg Baptie and Roland Stansell, also features two guest vocalists to allow for costume changes.

One is blonde Belinda Dolphin, who dresses in various outfits and wigs to depict famous male singers in the first half – Jeremy Taylor (Ag Pleez Daddy), Rod Stewart (Forever Young), Elton John (Crocodile Rock) and Freddie Mercury (My Best Friend ) – then sings songs associated with women in the second half.

The other guest is seasoned Durban panto dame Anthony Stonier, who mostly acts as (a seemingly very nervous) compere for the show then, towards the finale, does a very good job of singing I Am What I Am and The Best of Times.

Belinda Dolphin in Adieu.

It’s the drag artists, however, that shine the brightest with their very mixed bag of fun and silly, naughty and nice, numbers, the laughs sparked as much by clever lip-syncs and choice of numbers as botched choreography and fluffed lyrics. It’s that sort of go-with-the-flow show.

The feathery opening is a visual delight, some wobbly choreography notwithstanding, and sequences devoted to songs from the musical Nunsense are a hoot. Also worth special mention are Pearce’s unexpectedly poignant interpretation of Liza Minnelli’s What Makes a Man, his comical Spanish Rose and a lyrically reworked Ladies Who Lunch, made more funny on opening night with a misbehaving microphone.

Also standout moments are Quihampton’s Texan divorcee wailing through a Kacey Jones song, I’m Not Bitter, in which she wields a voodoo doll while she discusses her ex having bedded the babysitter; while Quihampton’s raunchy, lyrically doctored I Will Survive also draws much mirth.

Baptie’s finest moment is his delivery of Proud Mary, while tottering on huge stiletto heels, and in duet with Quihampton for the fun Aah Ma.

Stansell, seemingly always befuddled on stage and a bit of a scene-stealer for it, wins his loudest applause dressed as a slobbering tease in animal print and wild mane for a lip-sync of April Stevens’s Teach Me Tiger, that has him mingling with the audience. He does a similar routine with Della Reese’s Three  o’clock in the Morning and is also fun balancing a tuitti frutti turban on his head for Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai.

Adieu is a fun final bow for these cheerful old troupers who have tirelessly worked for fundraising for the aged and other charities. Kudos to them for that – and thanks for the memories.

Tickets cost R150 a head and booking is at Computicket or by phoning 082 499 8636.

A bit of ‘nunsense’ in Adieu, starring (from left) Roland Stansell, Derek Pearce,  Greg Baptie and Allan Quihampton.
Allan Quihampton, Roland Stansell and Derek Pearce of The Family Players.

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