Stage: Simply the Best – Barnyard Theatre, Suncoast Casino, Durban
(Thursdays to Saturdays at 7pm, and 2pm Sundays, until June 4)
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN’S Barnyard Theatre at Suncoast Casino has been on a roll of late – and judging by the great reception Simply the Best got at a recent packed matinee, this latest party-show production is sure to see the venue chalk up another winner.
Simply the Best is a slick and hits-packed salute to the music of five icons – Elton John, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Cher and Meatloaf.
Remarkable about the production, besides its steady flow of chart-topping songs, is that some impressive newcomers to the Durban Barnyard are among the cast, which includes popular resident musical director Calli Thomson on keyboards and backing vocals, Bongani Sokhela on bass, Jason Kylen on lead guitar and Paul Cassels on drums.
The newcomers to this venue are the stars of this show – charming and power-voiced Joanne Cellan, from Darling in the Cape, who provides sass and sparkle aplenty as Tina Turner; and, deservedly taking top billing, pint-size but dynamite young Cole Adams, also from the Cape, who brings all the moves and ultra-oomph as Whacko Jacko. Also new to the venue is talented Durban saxophonist Siya Duma.
Then there was shapely Bernelee Frick, cast as Cher, who is now been replaced by Barnyard regular, blonde Savanah de Beer. In the role of Meat Loaf, complete with long, dark wig and trademark red handerkerchief, is Barnyard stalwart Kyle Matthew. He is in great voice as the angsty, theatrical rocker, while ever-dependable Evan Cullum of Durban is seated for most of the show at a white baby grand, and does justice to the hits of Elton John.
With an effective, carefully arranged opening sequence that introduces each of the featured artists, the show goes on to offer all the hits, and more, added embellishment coming from fine lighting design, back projections and, in one sequence, the use of a screen to provide striking silhouettes.
Appearing solo and in varying combinations, the cast works hard and appears in a variety of costumes and wigs to call back the past through a parade of hits that starts with the opening medley featuring Burn Down the Mission/Your Song, Walking in Memphis, Bad, Let’s Stay Together and Anything For Love.
Highlights are many, including Cullum and Cellan’s duet with Elton John’s The Bitch is Back that flows from Cullum’s solo renditions of Rocket Man and I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues. Also a standout are Matthews and Frick uniting for It’s All Coming Back to Me Now and Deadringer for Love, while the energy of Adams’s Billie Jean marks a perfect end to the show’s first half.
One can also look forward to a great sequence from The Rocky Horror Show, featuring Meat Loaf’s Whatever Happened to Saturday Night – plus, as a bonus, an audience participation moment with The Time Warp from the same musical.
Among other favourites featured are Tina Turner’s crowd-pleasing Nutbush City Limits, Proud Mary and Private Dancer (where Duma’s sexy sax gets a solo spot), the Cher treats Believe and Shoop Shoop Song, and Elton’s Sad Songs, Candle in the Wind and Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.
Bat Outta Hell, The Way You Make Me Feel, Dirty Diana, Song For Guy, I Found Someone, Can You Feel It, Blame It on the Boogie, You Took the Words Right Outta My Mouth, Crocodile Rock, We Are the World, We Don’t Need Another Hero and, of course, Simply the Best, are also among hits on the songsheet.
This production is a real jol of a tribute show, ideal for letting down your hair over a pizza (great ones to be bought at the venue!) and a drink or three. It is being staged at 7pm Thursdays to Saturdays, and at 2pm on Sundays, until June 4.
WIN SHOW TICKETS… WIN SHOW TICKETS… WIN SHOW TICKETS
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3 thoughts on “Win 10 tickets to a jol of a show!”
Simply the best giveaway.
I am a SASSA pensioner so it would be great just winning 2 tickets 🎟
Simply the best….shows at Barnyard….never miss them..love the vibe.. food …amazing staff always there to welcome you back…just love ❤ it.