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Saturday, September 1, 2012


Stars wow audience!! (Review by John Harley)

The nation is again feeling proudly South African after our sporting stars' wonderful medal tally at the London Olympics. Now the Barnyard at Gateway is celebrating our SA musical heroes with their new show Special Stars.

This musical adventure is a long and colourful one that presents a talented 11-piece cast performing a wide range of music from the Southern tip of Africa. The show features music from Sipho Hotstix, David Kramer, Mango Groove, Steve Hofmeyr, Brenda Fassie, Hotline, Bright Blue and E'Void ; as well as hits from bands such as Clout, Ballyhoo, Rabbitt and Freshlyground ... to name but a few!

Special Stars is a celebration of South African music that will not only lift your spirit, but get you moving to the rhythm and beat of our country’s unique sound.

From the very outset, this production attacks every song with power, energy and great abandon! This gets the audience into the act immediately, clapping their hands and stomping their feet energetically to the African rhythms.

The talented cast of singers and musicians are excellent without exception - presenting the audience with powerful performances and generating a very high level of excitement and enthusiasm. The cast includes Pume Zondi, Elaine Fourie, Tina Masawi, Ruan Geldenhuys, Marwin Nethononda and Sherwin Pretorius.

The overall production was professionally presented with a simple, yet effective set, splendid costumes, effective lighting and excellent directing; producing a slickness one has come to expect from the Barnyard productions!

A few things did niggle, however. At times, I had great difficulty with the sound levels - with the band often drowning out the voice levels. Beautiful, poignant lyrics could often not be heard, which impacted on the overall mood and sense of the production, which was a great pity! The power of the overall production concept was essentially rooted in the words of many of the songs, and being denied this vital dramatic element, sacrificed a great deal of the true spirit of the production.

I also believe greater contrast was needed, either in the choice of the songs or in the sequencing, particularly with regard to the first half of the show. Here the audience was exposed to persistent high levels of intensity for long periods of time, without allowing them to breathe and relax by introducing a more laid-back, lyrical period of calm, before the next storm.

How delightful was it to hear the very simple, moving rendition of Halala Afrika; which in my opinion captured the true spirit of Africa - beautiful lyrics, clearly articulated and simply presented; such wonderful stillness! It was one of the purest emotional moments for me - visualizing our Olympic athletes, receiving their medals and listening to the National anthems in a quiet, gentle sense of humility and pride ... with tears running down their cheeks!

I don't want to single out any of the individual performers whom I feel created a great unified front with excellent performances throughout; yet I have to comment on the sublime skills of Kirsty Magdin on Sax and Regardt de Bruin on guitar - stuff that dreams are made on gave me pure and utter goose flesh!

Direction is by Duck Chowles with musical direction by Raymond Verster and Chris van der Westhuizen. The choreographer is Ramaine Barreiro Lloyd and Michael Broderick is the lighting designer.

I highly recommend you rush along and book your tickets forSpecial Stars before they fall from the heavens and you miss out on a great opportunity! The show runs until October 7. Tickets R135 from Wednesdays to Saturdays (R100 on Tuesdays and R90 for Sunday matinees). Bookings through the Barnyard on 031 566 3045. - John Harley