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Monday, April 7, 2014


(Roelof Colyn (top) & Ian von Memerty)

WOW! Now that’s entertainment! (Review by Keith Millar)

 Ian von Memerty and Roelof Colyn are simply superb in A Handful of Keys currently on at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, with over 1,180 performances and having been seen by more than 375,000 people A Handful of Keys is one of the most popular, and enduring, South African musical productions of all time.

It is not difficult to see why. For sheer, uncomplicated and exuberant good fun, this show has no peers. The concept is a simple - just two men fooling about with two pianos - but with extraordinary musical arrangements, hilarious lyrics and a script of absolute class, it is an unqualified winner.

von Memerty and Colyn not only show incredible musicality, but have oodles of charm and their comedy acting and timing is absolutely spot on. Their high spirits, energy and cheerfulness are very infectious and they take the audience with them on a rollercoaster ride of mirth and delight.

Many genres of music are heard in the show, including pop, classics, jazz, opera, blues and rock and roll, and almost without fail they are subject to an unmerciful send-up. Both artists prove themselves to be masters of the keyboard and very accomplished singers. This is enhanced on the few occasions when they get a little serious about their music.

There are too many highlights in the show to mention them all, but of note is the performance of the Beatles tune Yesterday in the style of various classic composers, including Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and Bartok. Colyn’s impersonations of Richard Clayderman, Stevie Wonder and Liberace are magnificent, while von Memerty is hilarious as Elton John.

There are tributes to lady singer/pianists such as Norah Jones, Alicia Keys and Nina Simone, and men such as Fats Domino, Fats Waller and Billy Joel. South African music is not ignored with a wonderful parody performance of The Click Song, Pata Pata and Mama Tembu’s Wedding.

An extraordinary item in the programme is The History of Broadway Musical where no less than 143 segments of Broadway musical songs are played and sung in 12 minutes. A virtuoso piano performance.

The show is rounded off with a high energy, acrobatic, display of rock and roll music.

Costume changes are many and, without fail, the outfits are outrageous, colourful and covered in sequins and glitter. They are very complimentary to the antics on stage.

If you have not been fortunate enough to see A Handful of Keys before, now is your chance. Don’t miss it, it is an absolute blast. If you have seen it before – well then I guess you have already booked to see it again.

A Handful of Keys runs until April 27 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with shows from Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 and with extra shows on Saturday and Sunday at 15h00. Tickets R150 booked through Computicket. – Keith Millar