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Thursday, December 13, 2012


 (Chloe Clark; Haylea Hounsom; Tamy Saville; Marion Loudon; Tory du Plessis; Kerry Wood and Father Christmas with the one and only Gambit!) 
This show will have huge public appeal as it celebrates the frivolous side of the Christmas. (Review by Keith Millar)
uShaka Marine World’s Dolphins By Starlight has little to do with the quiet dignity, serenity and sanctity of Christmas and everything to do with the hype, glitz, dazzling bright lights and thumping music of the festive season.

For once, Durban’s weather gods co-operated and the rain stayed away and, while there may not have been any starlight above, this was made up for by the marvellous sounds of Callie Thompson’s 12 piece Starlight Orchestra. They provided outstanding backing for the non-stop music which featured just about every popular contemporary Christmas song in the book.

The capacity invited audience were royally entertained by a glittering array of entertainers. Topping the bill was the popular Marion Loudon. She recently won The Mercury Theatre Personality of the Year award at The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards ceremony, and she showed why in a performance of great charm and energy. She was ably supported by kykNet Idols winner Dewald Louw; gifted 15 year-old prodigy Jonathan Johansen, and a close harmony group led by Shelly McLean.

Also on the bill were the Isicathamiya group, the Xulu Home Boys; the uShaka Children’s Choir; the One Medical Battalion Pipes and Drums, and the uShaka Mascots. The eager and animated emcee Neels Classens also showed that he has a very pleasant singing voice. Dance items were provided by Parker Studio Celtic Dancers and Dance to Dance, performing a beautiful waltz pas de deux.

A sing-a-long of well-known Christmas Carols also went down very well with the excited audience. They raised the roof while the words were projected on the big screen, just in case you didn’t know them. The only problem with the music content was the sometimes poor sound mix. Sacrificing quality for volume, the string section of the orchestra was at times all but inaudible. However, this did improve later in the show.

Of course, the ultimate stars of the night were the dolphins. No matter what your view is on dolphins in captivity they are glorious and endearing animals which are obviously highly intelligent, and seem to enjoy themselves as they frolic, jump and race around the pool during their thrilling and enjoyable acts.

The kings and queens of the pool are Kelpie, Jula, Khwezi, Ingozi, Afrika, Thombi, Khanya and Zulu, while the absolute superstar is Gambit. Gambit is the largest bottlenose dolphin in captivity in the world. He is father to seven and grandfather to one of uShaka’s performing dolphins. A legend in his own right.

As some people sitting close to me suggested, the show could possibly have had more dolphins and less humans performing.

This show will have huge public appeal. It celebrates the frivolous side of the Christmas season and succeeds admirably at that.

Dolphins By Starlight runs until December 16. Bookings can be made via Computicket or phone 031 328 8000. By the way, budget an extra hour for clearing uShaka’s chaotic parking area after the show. – Keith Millar