Stage: Megastars of Pop – Rockwood Theatre, Sibaya Casino
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
THREE Durban-based members of the cast of the Superbands production which recently ended a season at this popular Sibaya Casino venue have been retained for the latest show there – a production celebrating some of pop’s biggest hit-makers.
They are talented pianist and singer Evan Cullum, drummer Dillan Kanny and vocalist Ruan Geldenhuys, who now share the stage with a band comprising Durban lead guitarist Nick Pitman (last at this venue in the excellent Frank Sinatra tribute by Richard Shelton) and bassist Reece Cook (seen in the Rhumbelow Theatre’s recent Bob Dylan tribute by Tanner Wareham).
Also featured in Megastars of Pop, devised and directed by Andrew Webster, are vocalists Candice Kennedy, tall and camper-than-Christmas Donovan Yaards (who has a Grace Jones-inspired Afro that defies gravity) and nimble Michael Jonothan, who is not the greatest of singers but one of the best interpreters of Michael Jackson dance moves I have seen locally in quite some time.
Completing the cast is Jae Green – and if that names rings a bell, you are sure to recall her from Barnyard Theatre and other shows over the years. Or perhaps you remember the attractive Newlands East singer for her 2002 debut single, Missing You, which achieved platinum status and was nominated for a number of awards?
Nice to see her back on stage again in a show which, featuring this venue’s customarily good lighting and colourful costumes, offers a mixed bag of hit material that kept everyone happy and baying for more the night I was in.
That said, I would have liked to have seen a lot more pop personalities represented in the repertoire than simply Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Elton John and Elvis Presley – all of whom have been truly done to death in showband tributes.
Oh, we do also get a splash of Pink here (surprisingly, only one song, the inevitable Raise Your Glass), but there are so many artists than comfortably fit under the title Megastars of Pop that one wonders why the net was not thrown much wider.
That’s my gripe with a show that otherwise is more than satisfying as a way to let down your hair and enjoy a few drinks with familiar fare.
The sound mix left something to be desired during the first number or two at Wednesday’s show, but other than that, Megastars of Pop is a cheerful and well-paced salute to some pop royalty.
Highlights include Cullum’s performances of Your Song and I’m Still Standing, both performed from a white baby grand positioned in the centre of the stage; and Jae’s Dance With Somebody, Man in the Mirror and I Will Always Love You.
Also of note is Candice’s Proud Mary and Ruan wins loud applause for his Suspicious Minds and Burning Love, performed in an outfit nodding to groovy-sideburned Elvis’s Vegas years.
The first-half closing sequence is also worth mention – an enjoyable Tina Turner medley with various solo spots, starting with the show’s host, Donovan, impressing with vocal gymnastics while clearly having a ball strutting about in black, stiletto-heeled boots.
The show also offers Thriller (yep, dem darn zombies yet again), Crocodile Rock, Beat It, The Way You Male Me Feel, Rocket Man, a lively Jailhouse Rock, Billie Jean, Rock With You, Nutbush City Limits, Simply the Best and Saving All my Love For You, among other classics.
Megastars of Pop, which makes use of projected images on a large, suspended, screen against a wall of lights, is scheduled to run until August 4.
Tickets cost only R99 each on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Tickets for shows from Friday to Sunday cost R130 each for adults (with a special half-price offer to pensioners at the matinees on Sunday). Note that under-12s are now admitted free to all performances. Tickets can be booked at http://www.rockwoodtheatre.co.za or by calling (031) 010 6444.
The Rockwood Theatre is a show and dinner venue with a floor that is wheelchair-friendly. It offers a wide range of offerings for group bookings, conferences, fundraisers and private functions.
The casual dining experience is perfectly complimented with a fully stocked bar. For menu options and seating plan visit the website: http://www.rockwoodtheatre.co.za/durban.