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Thursday, November 26, 2009


(Pic: Marion Loudon, Andrew Webster and Jonothan Didlick)

Vibrant and fast moving show at Heritage makes good choice for festive season parties. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The Heritage Theatre has made a good choice with Party Time for its festive season show, as the response from a large number of corporate clients clearly proved last night.

Top class performer Andrew Webster, back in Durban after playing the lead in the Buddy Holly stage musical as well in various shows throughout South Africa, appears alongside Jonothan Didlick and Marion Loudon who are established firm favourites at The Heritage.

There is good rapport between the three which makes for a well-matched trio but it is Andrew’s experience, dancing skills and complete focus that sets him apart. Each step is clear-cut, each move tidy and every word can be heard. Showing no sign of flagging right to the end, he’s extremely fit and can slide onto his knees while playing the guitar as if he does this kind of thing every day!

Ever dynamic and generous in her performance, Marion Loudon gets to wear some great outfits – was she actually born in those jeans, they are so skin tight? – and with her long legs encased into high-heeled boots, she gains many centimetres in height. I enjoyed her Summer Nights with Jonothan.

Jonothan Didlick is as easygoing and amiable as always, the audience immediately warming to his personality, and I liked his This Love while Funky Cold Madia gave him a chance to showcase his comedy side.

However, while both Marion and Jonothan have grown considerably in stature over the years and are now confident performers with a strong following, they would benefit by learning from Andrew Webster’s performance ethic, particularly his articulation control in speech and song.

This said, audiences will enjoy the fun and fast pace of this production with its wide-ranging line-up of numbers which will appeal to one and all.

Musical director Dawn Selby provides back-up vocals and keeps the band tight and true to the originals. The inimitable Barry Thomson is on guitar and vocals, handling some good solo numbers. He particularly shines in the Santana Medley as well as the tributes to Carlos Santana and The Gypsy Kings. There’s also a poignant Drift Away on acoustic guitar with Andrew Webster and I really enjoyed their More than Words later on in the show.

Enjoy numbers such as Living La Vida Loca, Bailomos, Have You Really Ever Loved A Woman, The Hips Don’t Lie, Fever, Light My Fire, Hey Baby and Blame It on the Boogie. With its strong Latino feel, the show has to be strong on rhythm and this is effectively provided by Mali Sewell on drums and Mark Whittaker on percussion. Mark Whittaker was a delight to watch in numbers in which he was able to inter-act and I think that a fun show could be built around these two percussionists. Lloyd de Gier on bass guitar provides good rhythm back-up and entered good-naturedly into Chuck Berry’s hop-walk with Barry.

The show is devised and written by Gary McKenzie who is also the producer. Fiona Barnes is the choreographer and Megan McKenzie has produced some striking costumes. Colin Peddie’s sound design is efficient and Tina le Roux – who won The Mercury Durban Theatre Award for Lighting Design on Monday night – has created an elegant and stylish feel picking up the red elements of the stage setting.

Ticket R190 Wednesdays to Saturdays at 19h00 (R165 Tuesdays at 19h00 and Sundays at 12h30) include the show and a well-presented two-course meal. On the starter menu is Stuffed Squid Salad, Apple Crumble Salad and Gazpacho. I chose the squid which had quite a piquant stuffing while my partner enjoyed the apple salad with its blue cheese and candied nuts. For main course, my companions all chose Heritage’s time-honoured Karoo Lamb Shank – they must breed lambs with long legs in the Karoo! – while I enjoyed Christmas Poultry, a pleasant turkey breast stuffed the traditional way. Other main choices are Butternut Bake and Catch of the Day served with spinach risotto. Desserts are an optional extra and included a cheese board, Bread & Butter Pudding, Creme BrulĂ© and the intriguingly titled Head Chef Daniel Vieira’s Christmas Special.

There are also selected lunch-time performances to cater for schools, agencies and small businesses as well as the corporate market - prices for these are R165 pp including a two-course lunch. Bookings on 031 765 4197. – Caroline Smart