STAGE: Thank You For the Music – An Abba, Bee Gees and Queen Tribute – Barnyard Theatre, Suncoast Casino. Durban (Thursdays to Sundays until September 18)
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
SO NICE to see a good turnout and a highly appreciative audience at Sunday’s matinee of this fresh presentation of a tribute show that has been staged a few times over the years by The Barnyard franchise, including at the old Durban Barnyard Theatre that used to be at Umhlanga’s Gateway.
A tribute to the hits of Abba, Bee Gees and Queen, Thank You For the Music is not only a joyous, powerful cure for the Covid blues but also showcases some welcome new faces and some exciting talent. At a sad time when venues seem to be closing left, right and centre, it all bodes well for the future success of this fun casino theatre. Yay, for that!
Well lit, slickly presented and featuring a dazzling array of glittering costumes, the production is alone worth seeing to experience the powerful vocals of young Kalden Berg (real name Richard Kaldenberg).
A confident Capetonian who first starred in a Barnyard production at the age of 17, he hits super-high notes with ease and does a fine job with the camp and clout needed for a salute to Queen’s Freddie Mercury. He offers a kind of magic that makes him the undisputed star of this show!
That should not, however, suggest that others in this production do not twinkle. On the contrary, a newcomer to the Suncoast Barnyard, Durban’s Jerryn Fosteras, also takes harmonies and high notes in his stride. He is most remarkable in the Bee Gees sections of the show, in which he teams with another newcomer to this venue, Durban’s Josh Philander (son of Barnard stalwart Clinton Philander), and the ever-charming Kyle Matthews.
The teaming of Jerryn and Kalden for the Queen-David Bowie classic, Under Pressure, is a highlight of a show that bursts with standout moments.
Completing the vocal line-up are perky, petite blonde Savanah de Beer, who continues to glow and grow as a performer, and a welcome newcomer to the fold in sweet-voiced Kaylee McIlroy, eldest daughter of Durban showbiz darlings Aaron McIlroy and Lisa Bobbert.
The on-stage band is fronted by musical director and keyboard-player Calli Thomson and includes bassist Bongani Sokhela and drummer Dylan van der Linde.
Completing the team is bearded guitarist Jason Kyle who is becoming a regular in Suncoast Barnyard shows, gaining in confidence. Here he shows his versatility with commendable lead vocals on Abba’s Does You Mother Know? and in an excellent solo guitar delivery of Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever.
Almost all the hits are here, the production opening with a bang with a voiceover that leads to a vibrant medley of One Vision, Voulez Vous and You Should Be Dancing which introduces the whole cast.
The many Abba standouts include a meshing of Chiquitita and Waterloo and, in the show’s second half, a mix of the favourites Dancing Queen and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. Most of the Bee Gees biggies, from the ’60s through to the Saturday Night Fever classics, take the spotlight, a highlight being when the trio of performers lose their groovy wigs for the first time to sport red jackets and their own short haircuts for Words and Tragedy.
Queen rules, however. And what a royal treat audiences get with Kalden taking centrestage, in various Freddie trademark costumes, for such classics as Somebody to Love, We Will Rock You, It’s a Kind of Magic, The Show Must Go On and, with all the singers, a pretty impressive delivery of the demanding Bohemian Rhapsody.
Also worth mention is a story-telling medley that has Savanah and Kaylee delivering I Do, I Do, I Do before Kalden pops up in drag for I Want to Break Free. The women then return with Knowing Me, Knowing You.
Also featuring Take a Chance on Me, SOS, You Win Again, Mamma Mia, To Love Somebody, We Are the Champions, The Winner Takes It All, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and more, the show runs until September 18. Performances are Thursdays to Sundays and booking is by calling (031) 940 0500.