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Wednesday, July 10, 2013


(Headed by Rory Booth (not pictured), the cast of "Can You Feel It?" Pic by Val Adamson)
Professional and well-disciplined performances from youthful cast in brand new musical. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Unfortunately, I was in Grahamstown at the National Arts Festival when Can You Feel It? opened and tonight was the first chance I had to catch this memorable production which is presented by the Performing Arts Network of South Africa KZN (PANSA) and marks the 13th annual Rainbow Young Performers Project for 2013.

Can You Feel It? is a brand new production using contemporary pop songs with a Cirque du Soleil feel, written and directed by Peter Court and Charon Williams-Ros. It runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until Sunday.

From the moment Rory Morrison opens the show with Childhood, you know you’re in for something exceptional. His rendering of the Michael Jackson number is beautifully phrased and modulated, a very mature presentation.

The story deals with a young boy called Ben who runs away from his abusive father when his mother dies. We watch him growing up until he becomes a teenager and becomes part of a group of friends. However, danger lurks in the form of the gangster, King, who spreads terror among the youngsters and gets them hooked on drugs.

The Rainbow Young Performers Project gives pupils the unbeatable experience of working with top professionals in their field and generally exposing them to the rigours and disciplines of theatre work. This cast, which is drawn from schools around Durban and further afield in Pietermaritzburg, began rehearsing in May with rehearsals taking place over weekends and these have certainly paid off. The young cast members have also gained valuable experience through workshops with Cobus van Heerden (physical), Peter Court (mask making); Greg Witt (drumming) and Antonella Fyall (makeup).

Daisy Spencer’s choreography is spunky and lively and the high standard of singing can be attributed to vocal director Desire Govender. Tina le Roux’s excellent lighting and Megan Levy’s well-balanced sound adds to the high quality and with Peter Court and Charon Williams-Ros overseeing the entire process, the result is a tightly knit highly enjoyable show featuring the performers of tomorrow.

As the evil King, popular Durban actor and singer Rory Booth sets the example of a high professional standard for the young cast to follow.

While each performer puts in his or her individual energy and commitment, special mention must be made of Matthew Gabin (Ben), Minnie Ntuli, Nathan Kruger, Phindile Dube and Thulani Gumede. Surprise of the evening was diminutive 14 year-old Reece van Schalkwyk (young Ben) who has a powerful voice and is surely destined to go far. Where he keeps that voice in that ultra-slim frame, I have no idea!

All kudos to The Rainbow Young Performers Project for creating theatre of a very high standard.

Can You Feel It? runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until Sunday (July 14). Booking is through Computicket. Whatever you do, don’t miss it! – Caroline Smart