national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, December 7, 2008


(Pic: Lauren Laing, Bronwyn Evans and Kirsty Madgin)

A most entertaining well-scripted and planned show which was certainly enjoyed by all. (Review by Maurice Kort)

The Barnyard caters for a young crowd showcasing modern rock music and as a result their shows tend to be very, very popular, albeit very formulaic. Having attended a corporate end of year midday function, for which the Barnyard caters very well this time of the year, I was expecting their usual run-of-the mill loud musical tribute: one number following another with the result that the numbers are almost indistinguishable to one not particularly a fan of the modern pop hits. I was therefore very pleasantly surprised by a most entertaining well-scripted and planned show which was certainly enjoyed by all.

That one will experience something different is immediately evident with the appearance, after the opening overture, of a very smart air hostess in the form of Bronwyn Evans, who also scripted the show. In a very strong South African accent she announces that she is with "K'nar-dar" Airlines, despite the red ivy logo and uniform of Canadian Airlines. She is duly corrected by the Musical Director, Calli Thomson, seated at the keyboards. Thus starts the whirlwind flight of rocking around the world stopping on the way at a dozen countries, starting with Canada, where one can relive the hits of Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and Alanis Morisette ala Power of Love, Heaven and Hand in My Pocket.

Each following country is introduced by an ebullient, bubbling Bronwyn Evans in complete national character, dress and accent with appropriate very funny patter and mostly very original jokes and throwaway lines, occasionally unfortunately too quick to catch but generally spot on. Ireland, the next stop, is of course exemplified by The Lord of the Dance and the violin (a virtuoso performance by Jane Baillie). In addition to Bronwyn Evans' impersonations, many of the songs are performed by the vocalists, Lauren Laing, Petro Liebenberg, Joel Zuma and Steph Botha taking on the dress, looks, mannerisms and delivery of the artists whose songs they are covering. This is particularly so in the Edith Piaf songs La Vie En Rose and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien representing the next country, France, on the tour. The impersonation of The Little Sparrow was magnificent and this alone is worth the price of the ticket.

The fun continues with Volare and Bambeleo from Spain and of course Abba is well presented in the songs Voulez Vous, Does Your Mother Know and SOS for Sweden. After Bronwyn Evan's Pommy introduction of England, we are treated to the fabulous Queen hits God Save the Queen, We Will Rock You, I Wanna Break Free and We Are the Champions, performed by a very passable "Freddie Mercury", as well as several other British hits.

After the interval Bronwyn Evans as a typical Ozzie, replete with corked hat, introduces the travelling audience to Australia and several hits are performed (Thunderstruck, Who Can It Be Now, Never Tear Us Apart and Locomotion) before moving on to South America (Smooth, Objection Tango) and Jamaica, introduced by Joel Zuma as a typical Rastafarian who rocks with Three Little Birds and No Woman No Cry. Of course Bob Marley hits had to be featured. The Deep South of the United States of America is depicted as well as many American songs, particularly enjoyable being Cotton Fields, American Pie, Simply the Best and the Neil Diamond classic Beautiful Noise. Also showcased are songs of Madonna, Michael Jackson (a very popular rendition by Joel Zuma) and Tina Turner (complete in dress and hairstyle)

Next stop was Greece and, predictably, Zorba the Greek which was done as an instrumental number with only an introductory few dance steps by the ever-sparkling Bronwyn Evans. A fuller dance sequence would have been great.

The show ends far too soon back home in South Africa with the Juluka and Mango Groove hits Impi and Special Star, respectively. So, in addition to seeing a well presented polished show, if you're a fan of the music of U2, The Gypsy Kings, George Michael, Amy Winehouse, AC/DC, Men at Work, INXS, Carlos Santana or Shakira, in addition to the artists mentioned above, you will certainly enjoy the show.

Completing the eleven member cast are the rest of the band members - Johan Liebenberg on guitar and vocals, Banda Banda on bass guitar, Juan Smit on drums and Kirsty Madgin on saxophone. There are several solo performances by the band members during the show, all very polished and most enjoyable, very accomplished performers indeed.

Credit is also due to Denya Maslen (choreography), Trevor McClymont and the Barnyard Theatre Production for the excellent costumes which added so much to the different characters, Michael Broderick (lighting design) and Damien Murray (sound). To his credit, there was not the usual over-amplified sound of the Barnyard Theatre, at least not from where I was sitting, centre stage upstairs. Maybe this would not have been the case had I sat nearer the front downstairs - but I would certainly give them the benefit of the doubt and applaud them for the much better sound quality. Let the rest of the team, Dave Komo, the lighting technician, and Pumlani Ngwane and Godfrey Gumede, the follow-spot operators, not be omitted.

The show is set to run at the Barnyard Theatre, Gateway, until January 11, with shows Tuesdays to Saturdays at 20h00 (Sundays at 14h00) with doors opening at 18h30 and 12h30, respectively. There are additional lunch time shows on December 3, 5, 10 and 12, although a couple are already fully booked. Tickets R106 each from Wednesday to Saturday (R70 discounted specials on Tuesdays and Sundays). To book call 031 566 3045. - Maurice Kort