……BY BILLY SUTER……
FANS of Sting and The Police were to have had a double treat on Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre circuit this month – scheduled for performances was a revival of the fine Billy Joel Meets Sting show by John Ellis, Evan Cullum and Andy Turrell, as well as an all-new production by Durban’s In the Flesh band, titled Synchronicity, which has been in the works for a few years.
Sadly, however, only Synchronicity will now be presented this month, as a member of the cast of Billy Joel meets Sting and of a scheduled Elvis Presley tribute show, Doug Weich and band’s Burning Love, has had to go into Covid-19 isolation.
Billy Joel Meets Sting has been replaced by an all-new pub quiz, scheduled for 2pm on Sunday, August 8, at the Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre (admission is R100 a head). The Burning Love show replacement, at 2pm on August 14 and 15, also at the Umbilo theatre, will be Aaron McIlroy’s The Loser.
Following recent fluctuating lockdown curfew restrictions and many being wary to travel at night following recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, it has been decided, until further notice and unless otherwise stated, that the Rhumbleow Theatre group will have only 2pm performances.
The new Sting-themed show, Synchronicity, will premiere at the Rhumbelow Theatre’s branch at Tina’s Hotel, Kloof, at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday, August 14 and 15. Performances of this show at other Rhumbelow Theatres will be scheduled later.
Synchronicity features In the Flesh, the group that gave us the excellent Pink Floyd and Southern Rock Classics tribute shows, headed by Ross Tapson on lead vocals and guitar, Neil Ford on bass and Grant Halliday on drums. For the Sting show, newcomer to the band, fine singer-guitarist Aaron Saunders, will be missing, while guest performers will be popular vocalist Marion Loudon and seasoned Keith Fordyce on keyboards, guitar and vocals.
“We approached Marion about the idea of doing a tribute to Sting and the Police literally years ago – when we did our first Rhumbelow appearance with the Pink Floyd tribute,” says Tapson.
“We first approached Roland about staging the Sting show in 2019, and were scheduled to open in April 2020. Since then we’ve been interrupted numerous times by lockdowns, and not least by personnel changes.
“It’s not the easiest music to do if you mean to do it justice. Our focus is a bit different than Evan, John and Andy’s, and where there may be a bit of overlap I’m sure the approach is fresh enough, and the line-up different enough, to be entertaining – even for people who’ll see both shows. We’ve taken to joking that every time we book a date for this show the Covid numbers spike, or there are riots. If we book another it’ll be a plague of locusts next.”
Adds Tapson: “There have been so many brilliant Sting songs to choose from over the years, and so many of them are well-known that we’re spoiled for choice. We do like doing things that are a bit audacious, but we certainly will make sure people get to hear their favourites too.
Marion is a master showman, and we’ve been wanting to work with her for ages, and hopefully will continue to get to do so. She’s a superb musician, and can be vibrant and bring colour and movement while the rest of us are anchored to our instruments! She is fronting Walking on the Moon, King of Pain, Mad About You and Shape of My Heart, but will also handle harmonies on all songs I sing.
“I’m also so pleased to have Keith involved. He’s a superb musician and a lovely guy to be around. He’s a great singer, keyboard player and guitarist, and an asset to any band.”
Why no Aaron Saunders this time?
“Aaron is on the cards for shows going forward – it’s simply a case that this show was in the works years before we’d ever even met him,” explains Tapson.
Meanwhile, the Rhumbelow, which follows all Covid-19 lockdown safety protocols and regulations, has also announced it will be reviving one of Durban’s most popular, award-winning shows this month. It is The Glitter Girls, teaming Lisa Bobbert, Marion Loudon and Liesl Coppin in a mesh of comedy and song centred on women reminiscing at their high school reunion.
The Glitter Girls is scheduled for 2pm performances at the Rhumbelow’s Pietermaritzburg branch, in the Allan Wilson shellhole, on August 22; and at 2pm on August 28 and 29 at the Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre.
Another hit returning to the Rhumbelow circuit this month is Hot August Night, The Reals band’s fun Neil Diamond tribute show. It is scheduled for 2pm performances at the Umbilo theatre on August 21 and 22, then has a performance at the theatre’s Northlands Bowling Club branch, Durban North, on August 15, before 2pm shows at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof on August 28 and 29.
Also scheduled for August is Frank Graham reliving memories of his years on Springbok Radio. See him on stage at 2pm on August 29 at Northlands Bowling Club.
Note that tickets for all Rhumbelow productions cost R160 each (unless otherwise stated) and booking is at Computicket. Or mail Roland Stansell at email@example.com or phone him at 082 499 8636.