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Wednesday, October 5, 2011


(Anthony Stonier, Lauren Dassapa and Marion Loudon). Missing: Tonya Koenderman

Good idea with strong potential and talented cast needs further exploration. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Running until Sunday at Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest is Mischievous Divas, featuring Anthony Stonier, Tonya Koenderman, Marion Loudon and Lauren Dassapa.

Giving the epitome of a diva performance with her strong gestures, provocative movements and high octane energy is Tonya Koenderman whose Proud Mary was an audience favourite complete with hectic Tina Turner wig as well as Cabaret, delivered with the emotion and survival passion the number demands.

Good to see opera-trained Lauren Dasappa off the concert platform and into a theatrical production for a change. Her I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables was powerful and passionate and she shone in Saving All My Love For You.

Marion Loudon was adorable and ditsy in Carmen Miranda’s Ai Ai Ai and elegantly coy in I Wanna Be Loved By You.

Three ladies with different styles – a challenging process to integrate them. It worked effectively with Tonya and Lauren’s moving rendition of Tell Him.

Starting off as himself, Stonier moves into female form in the second half – a persona which he handles so well, as seen in numerous adult pantomimes. His laconic An Englishman Needs Time was amusing and he brought his vocal power to I Am What I Am and Don't Rain On My Parade. One of the interesting items on the programme was a slow bluesy rendition of Happy Days/C'Mon Get Happy which he sings in tandem with Tonya Koenderman.

The press release describes the show as a “raunchy, edgy mud-slinging musical duel to find out who is (and /or was) the most mischievous of all the musical divas” and this is where the problem lies. Apart from a short introduction from the “MC” (Stonier) as to what the word “diva” entails, this theme wasn’t followed through.

The idea is that the MC decides that he’s not getting the recognition he deserves, so decides to join the girls. It is a good idea with strong potential, especially when you are featuring songs from personalities ranging from Marilyn Monroe, Eartha Kitt and Barbara Streisand to Bette Midler, Lady Ga Ga and Amy Winehouse

There’s no denying the capacity and talent of the four performers but stronger direction and a more logical linking narrative script – even on voice-over – would hold the show together in a more cohesive format.

While there has been an obvious decision to leave all the bells and whistles of theatrical lighting (including the stronger use of spotlights) until the second half, this leaves the first half seen much as a concert, with the performers carrying mic stands on and off, which lessens any dramatic effect. The tangled light strands on the back curtain were also very distracting.

Most of the show sees solo performers on stage while occasionally there are duets or threesomes and only two numbers with the full cast. It would help if there was more set dressing to narrow the performance area to give the show the intimacy it needs. More focus also needs to be placed on costuming.

The menu is a good one with Roasted Butternut Soup, Caprese Salad and Italian Salad as starters and Melanzane (aubergine, mozzarella and Napolitano sauce), Oven Baked Dorado, Thai Green Chicken Curry and Roast Sirloin on the main menu. I opted for the Caprese Salad which was a perfect starter size (unlike the soup which was a very hefty portion) and the Sirloin. I asked for the dish without its red wine (which doesn’t agree with me) and dark chocolate jus and ended up enjoying the sirloin immensely. There is an optional dessert menu with Bread and Butter Pudding and Hot Chocolate Lava Cake and Ice-Cream and Butterscotch Sauce (all at R29 each) as well as a Cheese Board (R35).

Mischievous Divas runs from September 27 to October 9 at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest. Tickets R100 for the show only. Tickets including a two-course meal from Wednesday to Saturday at 19h00 are R190 (R165 on Tuesday at 19h00 and Sunday at 12h30). Bookings on 031 765 4197. – Caroline Smart