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Monday, May 25, 2009


Enjoyable evening provided a good opportunity to spot Durban’s emerging theatre talent. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Westville Boys' High Schools Musical Outreach Benefit Fundraiser, a project created to give performance opportunities to the school’s talented youngsters as well as to raise funds for local charities. (Last year it handed over R25,000)

Titled The 5th Element, the show features the WBHS learners alongside their female counterparts from Westville Girls High, Kloof High and St Mary’s. Directed by Devin Möller with musical direction by Luke Holder, The 5th Element is a well-directed, highly entertaining series of musical numbers. Offering strong live musical backing and efficient sound and lighting support, it required the performers to embrace a number of music and dance styles.

Highlights of the evening were a powerful Who Wants to live Forever from Paul Coombe; River Deep, Mountain High from Kerryn Beattie and an impassioned Colours of the Wind from Loryn Julius. Other performers to catch the eye were Steffen Wies with his clear high-range voice (Orinoco Flow) and Alyssa Halse in Rain. Delwin van Jaarsveld got the crowd going with Loslappie and Michelle Ostler’s Valerie showed a strong mature vocal range and the capacity to move comfortably from the safety of the stage into the audience. Tristan Daley, Emile van Staden, Jordan Collins and Brendan Thom also drew much of the evening’s applause.

Major crowd pleasers were the Latin American dance items from WBHS’s Joel Shepherd and his partner Jaime Louw who are the South African Latin American Dance Champions.

While the setting was simple and effective, I had a few problems with some of the choreographic and costume choices. For instance, a kind of Irish dance or balletic-styled movement to the very African He Lives in You or ruffles on a striped shirt jarred a bit and while the baroque styled costumes were fine in the next numbers, they could well have done with more of an African element for this one. The production showcases the WBHS Drumline and, if we are talking about costumes here, they would have benefitted from some kind of brightly coloured belt or sash.

With the current international economic downturn, theatre needs to be kept alive within the communities and Westville Boys High has a very attractive venue in the Roy Couzens Hall. I would really like to see the school create a development programme for their talented learners – with or without the support of their female colleagues – by putting on small supper theatre shows. Audiences could bring their own food and drinks, thus saving the school the hassle of catering. The Hall can accommodate audiences numbering anything from 20 to 200 in a comfortable and relaxing supper theatre format.

The 5th Element runs until May 30 at 18h00 for 19h00 in the Roy Couzens Hall at Westville Boys High School. Tickets R40 pp (R400 for a table of 10) on a bring-your-own picnic basket & drinks basis. Bookings accompanied with cash only can be made with Sally Beuster and Clemmi Bothma in the front office. (No reservations will be made telephonically) – Caroline Smart