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Friday, August 3, 2012


(Gary McKenzie in the centre surrounded by, clockwise, Danny Guselli, Janine Bennewith, Liesl Coppin, Cathy Barry, Geezo Peterson, Lauren Laing and Marion Loudon)

One of Heritage Theatre’s best shows to date. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Burlesque!which officially opened last night at the Heritage Theatre is described in the publicity material thus: “Burlesque! It‘s not a place. It’s not a time. It is a fantasy. It is intrigue. It is a feast for the senses.”

One of Heritage Theatre’s best shows to date, Burlesque! is all this and more. Performances are excellent in this slick, fast-moving, well-directed and attractively costumed production which stars Gary McKenzie as the sleazy club owner with Lauren Laing, Marion Loudon and Liesl Coppin as his showgirls. They are backed by dancers Janine Bennewith, Cathy Barry, Geezo Peterson and Danny Guselli.

The Burlesque style, made popular in American theatre from the 1930s to the late 1950s, traditionally offered a visual feast for the senses – with bawdy comedy and skimpy costumes. The recent revival of Burlesque now includes contemporary musical numbers and dance styles.

Spanning old and new Burlesque, the show was conceptualised and directed by Janine Bennewith and written and co-compiled by Gary McKenzie. The hard-working cast deserves every accolade. It must be mild chaos backstage with costume changes at the double but none of this showed in what is a very professional production.

Dean Bennewith’s set is impressive with two mammoth faces wearing gilded masks either side of the stage, offset at the back by a further framed image. The back raised platform and the front curved ramp offer movement variety. Tina le Roux’s lighting design and Colin Peddie’s sound design add to the enjoyment of Janine Bennewith’s choreography.

There are feather headdresses, feather boas and feather fantails. It’s stylish, sexy, high energy … and it’s fun. The hit numbers keep on coming - from Welcome to Burlesque; Let Me Entertain You; My Heart Belongs to Daddy; When You're Good to Mama; Razzle Dazzle and Master of the House to the delicious story of Otto Titslinger and Philippe DeBrazierre. Moving closer to the 21st Century, there’s Hop On Hop Off Kinda Lover, When I Grow Up, and Something’s Got a Hold On Me.

Bennewith, Peterson and Guselli perform a riveting adagio to McKenzie’s Roxanne, which McKenzie handled well despite the fact that he is suffering from bronchitis.

Burlesque! runs at The Heritage Theatre at the Heritage Market in Hillcrest until August 26. Ticket prices R195 pp Wednesday to Saturdays (R165 pp Tuesday evenings and Sunday lunch times) include a two-course meal. A non-dining, “show only” option is also offered at R100 pp.

The new menu offers Mezelic Platter, Sweet Potato and Pear Soup and Chicken Salad for starters with Roasted Vegetable Stack, Oven Baked Fish Fillet, Grilled Chicken Breast and Slow Braised Veal Shoulder as main courses. I opted for the soup which was light and not too filling which made a perfect starter for the Veal Shoulder which was equally enjoyable. The only complaint from my companions was that the Balsamic Vinaigrette overpowered the Mezelic Platter. The dessert menu is not included in the cover charge but offers some tempting delights!

Bookings on 031 765 4197 or visit This show is rated PG-13. - Caroline Smart