national Arts Festival Banner

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


(Riaan Jacobsz, Shaun Dragt, Mali Sewell, Andy Turrell and Jason Andrew with Barry Thomson and Dawn Selby seated)

Excellent tribute to The Eagles by engaging group of musicians. (Review by Caroline Smart)

From the first notes of the title number to the final encore, Taking it Easy up at Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest offers a fine tribute to The Eagles, the American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1971 by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner.

Despite breaking up between 1980 and 1994, their music continues to have massive appeal and can now boast of reaching three generations. Even a classically-trained person like me, who grew to adulthood more connected to the charms of Mozart and the power of Beethoven and only being vaguely aware of pop music, can’t fail to respond to numbers such as Lying Eyes, Hotel California and the hauntingly evocative Desperado.

Taking it Easy features an excellent – and engaging - group of musicians. Music director Dawn Selby on keyboards and lead guitarist/vocalist Barry Thomson are ably supported by guitarists Andy Turrell (also on pedal steel), Riaan Jacobsz and Shaun Dragt on front-line guitars with Jason Andrew on bass. For a production like this, you need a rock solid drummer and the show is in good hands with the inimitable Mali Sewell who also gets to do a few solo spots!

While Barry Thomson is definitely the star of the show, moving comfortably from the hot rock numbers into the more sensitive items, the others are worth watching as well. Each is an individual and makes a strong contribution to the show, particularly Riaan Jacobsz who handles some of the vocals in his first Heritage production and what Barry Thomson describes as a “very difficult show”. As he states – it’s very complicated – “after all, there are five Eagle members and seven of us”, which says something!

The show is conducted in a very professional fashion. Often in tribute shows like these, the process can become self-indulgent and spasmodic. This one moves smoothly along and this has a lot to do with Barry Thomson’s handling of the process. Expect to hear some of The Eagles’ smash-hits such as The Long Run, Witchy Woman, Take it to the Limit. Lyin’ Eyes, Get Over It and Heartache Tonight, to name a few.

Taking it Easy is a good choice for corporate functions as we start winding down towards the end of the year because the music has a universal appeal. There are linking sound bytes from the Eagles members themselves – many of them highly amusing such as a reviewer’s comment that they did little else other than “loiter on stage” in a particular performance to which the laconic response was: “In our 50’s, we can’t go dancing around. It’s a bit more dignified to loiter”.

There’s not a lot you can do in terms of lighting and set design with seven musos and a whole bunch of instruments so the visual effect is busy but pleasing. Credit to Tina le Roux's lighting which ranges from subtle colours to energetic special effects when the song style demands. There’s a roll of what looks like razor wire running over the performers’ heads but it’s actually a string of lights which create an interesting rolling-motion under the moving lighting effects.

The menu is virtually the same as the one I recently reviewed with Mischievous Divas. There’s Roasted Butternut Soup, Chicken 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 Italian Caprese Salad and asked for the Sirloin without its red wine and dark chocolate jus – both very enjoyable. There is an optional dessert menu with Bread and Butter Pudding and Hot Chocolate Lava Cake and Mint & White Chocolate Mousse (all at R29 each).

Taking It Easy runs at The Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest until November 6. Tickets R100 for the show only or R190 pp Wednesday to Saturdays, which includes a two-course meal (R165 Tuesday at 19h00 and Sunday at 12h30). Bookings on 031 765 4197 or online at – Caroline Smart