Fun mixed bag of a show

Godfrey Johnson, left. and Nicholas McDiarmid in Pianomania at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo.

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Stage: Pianomania – Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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IT MAY sometimes be a little loose at the edges, but you would be more than rewarded with a visit to the fun, enjoyable and unpredictable Pianomania, which has final Durban performances at the Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre  in Umbilo at 8pm tonight and 2pm tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9).

The production features Cape Town life partners Godfrey Johnson and Nicholas McDiarmid, both versatile and accomplished pianists, in a jolly mish-mash of song and music by turns serious and playful, silly and sentimental.

They perform solo and as a pair, both taking turns on lead vocals. Godfrey is seated at a black grand piano to the left of the small Rhumbelow Theatre stage and Nicholas faces him while seated at a white baby grand on the right.

Together, with minimal fuss or fanfare, they launch straight into a merry mix of entertainment that has them tipping hats to classical music as well as everyone from Elton John, Leonard Cohen, Gloria Gaynor and Bronski Beat to Billy Joel, Mary Hopkins, Boomtown Rats and Soft Cell.

Godfrey Johnson, left. and Nicholas McDiarmid at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo.

They also offer a comic, local variation of The Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago; amusing songs about The Pope, Donald Trump, modern man and coughing (a lyrically reworked Endless Love); and the delightful Shattered Illusions, which has a couple realising that each is not quite what the other thought they were.

Hell, at one point the duo even goes completely off the wall with a touch of opera, singing the praises of, um, avocado and boiled egg.

Highlights include a medley of ’80s hits (I Don’t Like Mondays, Tainted Love and Smalltown Boy). Also of great value is the amusing second-half opener, a two-piano interpretation of Richard Clayderman’s saccharine Ballad For Adeline that incorporates everything from Lili Marlene and The Rose to the Dallas TV show theme, Beethoven’s Fur Elise and Baa Baa Black Sheep.

I also greatly enjoyed two serious moments in which Johnson performs a melancholy version of the classic My Funny Valentine and lends a heartfelt intensity to the Leonard Cohen classic, Famous Blue Raincoat.

Nicholas has his time to shine in a standout classical solo spot and also with Elton John’s Your Song. He also excels alongside Godfrey in a rendition of Jacques Brel’s Carousel and Mary Hopkins’s exuberant Those Were the Days.

Tickets for Pianomania cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners) and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland at 082 499 8636.

Nicholas McDiarmid and Godfrey Johnson at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo.

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