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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


(Tonya Koenderman)

In her latest one woman show, the lively and vivacious Tonya Koenderman pays tribute to that exciting era when Jazz ruled supreme. She will perform When Jazz Was King for Rhumbelow Theatre over this weekend and the next (February 28 to March 9) at Rhumbelow’s Durban and Pietermaritzburg venues.

The year is 1935, and the music is Jazz! Names such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Duke Ellington rule the music scene. These were strange times indeed: America was still very racially divided, but jazz appealed to both black and white. The likes of Louis Armstrong even got to sit in white-only restaurants as well as gain access to the upper echelons of American society because of his abundant talent and charm. Such was the power of this vibrant new style of music they called “Jazz”.

This did not sit well with his fellow African Americans, however, who regarded him as an “Uncle Tom”, seemingly participating in the oppression of his own group.

Tonya Koenderman touches briefly on the history of jazz, tells interesting jazz related anecdotes, but most of all, she pays tribute to the great jazz classics. She gives her own touch of magic to songs such as Stuff Like That There, Feeling Good, Summertime, The Blues In the Night, Somewhere over the Rainbow, Get Happy, My Baby Just Cares for me and many more. The show also takes on a more sombre mood at times, with melancholy thought-provoking classics such as Strange Fruit and Tomorrow Is My Turn.

Shows take place in Durban on February 28 and March 1 as well as from March 7 to 9 and in Pietermaritzburg on March 2. Friday and Saturday performances at 20h00 with Sunday shows starting at 18h30. There are extra Sunday performances at 14h00 on March 2 in Pietermaritzburg and March 9 in Durban. The venue opens 90 minutes before show for picnic dinner.

Tickets R120 (R100 pensioners and tables of eight or more).

Take along food picnic baskets. Braais will be available only at the Durban venue. There is limited secure parking and booking is essential. A cash bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises). Rhumbelow Durban is situated in Cunningham Avenue off Bartle Road and Rhumbelow Pietermaritzburg is in the Allan Wilson Shellhole.

Booking is through Computicket or contact Roland on 031 205 7602 (h) or 082 499 8636, email or visit