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Saturday, April 4, 2009


Another cleverly mounted very entertaining musical evening by the Westville Theatre Club. (Review by Maurice Kort)

The Westville Theatre Club have a winning formula in their musical evenings performed in their intimate club which they can accomplish as they have great singers and even greater dedication and professionalism. A great deal of thought, imagination and work went into their latest offering Women of Wisdom by the director, Shirley Emanuel who also devised the show. As the title suggests, although it might even have been titled Women of Wonder, she compiled a list of about 17 women who have made their mark in the world in no uncertain terms. These are listed in the programme and form the basis of the show. In addition to the songs which were chosen for their relevance, there was a very cleverly assembled and executed slide show on very large screens on each side of the stage. The cast appeared in a large variety of costumes which in many cases added visual support to the various women personified.

A shining example of the imaginative combination of slides, song, and costume (and in this case also a matter of lack of) is the number Lady Godiva, which was one of the highlights of the show. Why was she included in the line-up? Her ride through the market place naked on horseback is well known but what is probably far less known is the reason she did this, i.e. her passion for human rights. Another very clever choice was the tribute to Amelia Earhart (aviator) and the song I Believe I Can Fly with the singer Samantha Goldblatt suitably attired as a pilot.

Other well-known women of wisdom highlighted are Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Joan of Arc and Lady Dianna Spencer, to name but a few. Sportswomen who have excelled are also featured and the song Never Give Up was most appropriate.

There two men in the cast were severely outnumbered by the 12 women singers. The show opened with the men singing, you guessed it, Thank Heaven for Little Girls with four young girls doing their moves in the background. They were a little unsure of themselves, possibly under-rehearsed on opening night, and probably nervous but it was a stout effort on their part and no doubt they will improve. Although most of the cast have their solo numbers or duets the show was really a team effort with good performances by everyone. The hard working sound and light operators, Kevin Hiller and Coney Bundock, respectively, contributed in no uncertain terms to the slickness of the production. Also deserving special mention is the beautiful backdrop, presumably the work of Jill Sysum although she is not mentioned.

The second half departed from the show's title and theme as if Shirley Emanuel had run out of steam, time or ideas and is a compilation of songs, albeit with women in the song title or subject. However, this did not disappoint in the least because of the quality of the singing, presentation and choice of songs. An absolute highlight was The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane sung by Jill Sysum, Nicole Boskins and Marijke de Bruin and Tammy, the Debbie Reynolds hit, was a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

A quibble I have had in the past, and which was again present, was the short delays between the numbers, leaving the stage bare. As I mentioned before, a cardinal rule of theatre is not to have a bare stage otherwise the audience is brought back to earth from the musical journey the director has so carefully created. The changeover from the previous song to Swan Lake where the dancer, Tanielle Welff, was already prone on stage ready for her number was very smoothly accomplished, so it can be done.

Women of Wisdom runs at the Westville Theatre Club, Attercliffe Road, Westville, until April 4 at 19h30 for 20h00. Tickets R40 each and to book phone Shirley, 082 343 6971 or e-mail