Lucky dip of music and mayhem

Lisa and Aaron McIlroy and daughters Grace (left) and Kaylee in Classical Comedy, also featuring the Durban City Orchestra. The show is at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Thursdays to Sundays, until December 4.

Stage: Classical Comedy – Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Durban
(Thursday to Sunday until December 4)
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER

THERE is a fresh, festive and more sophisticated approach to this year’s large-scale production from the hugely popular husband and wife team of Aaron McIlroy and Lisa Bobbert, who serve a glossy, bumper lucky dip of good cheer and great music with Classical Comedy.

Directed by Darren King and choreographed by Daisy Spencer, this joyous new show is a perfect package for the silly season, and it was an inspired move by the seasoned team of singer-comics to share the limelight with the Durban City Orchestra. These 40-plus musicians provide not only a good range of music and costume change time for Lisa and Aaron, but shine every bit as brightly as Durban’s darling duo.

The orchestra, set against a large backdrop of projected visuals including film footage of the MacBob duo, dominates the stage and excels alone and with playful interaction with Lisa and Aaron. It also provides welcome breathers between Lisa and Aaron’s crazy stock characters.

Another fresh aspect of this show is that the McIlroys are joined by their son Declan, who is out of sight handling spotlights, and their daughters, Kaylee and Grace. The girls, now all grown up and looking fab, provide backing vocals, some contemporary and ballet dancing (Grace), and on-stage assistance.

The briskly paced production, presented over two acts, lives up to its publicity claim of migrating “from Bach to Beethoven to Bedlam” and the beauty of its appeal is that one never knows what to expect next.

The Durban City Orchestra (DCO) is one of the longest running orchestras in the country. Independent of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, it started as the Durban Philharmonic Orchestra, and later became known as the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra before it became DCO. 

It comprises independent professionals, active and retired music teachers, university music students and part-time musicians who participate voluntarily for the love of music and of performing together. 

In Classical Comedy, the musicians serve a variety that includes light classical favourites, some swing, pop, novelty (Aaron with a triangle and an orchestra member playing a typewriter) and excerpts from movie scores. As a finale, we get a medley of carols for which the McIlroy family encourage the audience to sing along, with lyrics beamed on to the backdrop screen.

Aaron McIlroy and Lisa Bobbert with members of the Durban City Orchestra.

Under the baton of engaging, animated Resident Conductor Charl van der Merwe (who is principle bassoonist with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra), the musicians deliver such fare as The William Tell Overture and themes from Chariots of Fire, The Mission and Pirates of the Caribbean. Heck, there’s even a spot of Neil Diamond!

Items to look forward to include Aaron and Lisa tangoing through music from the film Scent of a Woman and having a right royal jol with In the Mood. We also get an amusing balletic interlude highlighting a graceful Grace and a deliberately clunky Lisa.

Nice to note that Lisa and Aaron also take time out from playing the giddy goat to showcase some exemplary vocals while playing it straight – she with Adele’s dramatic Skyfall, from the James Bond film of the same name; he with a rendition of Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet, a sweet, nostalgic moment which accompanies a sequence of photos from MacBob’s many stage appearances over the decades.

Also in the show are Macbob’s whining Charmaine and her husband Bruce. We also get a delicious Luciano Pavarotti send-up with Aaron delivering made-up lyrics while in a fat suit and beard. A skateboarding pirate, an elf, a cringingly creepy Casanova called Jose Exotic, and a team of offbeat music “experts” also pop up on the programme.

Aaron and Lisa’s teaming with the orchestra and their offspring works so well one hopes future teamings will be considered. If so, it might be a good idea to have Grace and, especially, Kaylee (who was among the cast of The Barnyard’s recent hit, Thank You For the Music), sharing some lead vocals, perhaps a duet or two with mom or dad.

That said, Classical Comedy is everything you’d expect from a MacBob production – and a lot more. In fact, I would stick my neck out and label it as the team’s best large-scale production in a while. Note, though, that the production’s season is short – it runs Thursdays to Sundays only until December 4. So hurry to get tickets!

Remaining performances are at 3pm today (November 27), 7pm next Thursday and Friday (December 1 and 2), 3pm and 7pm on Saturday, December 3, and 2pm on Sunday, December 4, Tickets cost R200 (R180 for pensioners and students) and booking is via Computicket. Note that the theatre has a generator in the event of load-shedding.


3 thoughts on “Lucky dip of music and mayhem

  1. We saw it this afternoon. A fabulous, high energy show. Beautiful music from the orchestra. Lisa singing “Skyfall” just blew the audience away. So privileged to have such talented performers in Durban

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