national Arts Festival Banner

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


(Tim Moloi & Judith Sephuma. Pix courtesy of Tim Moloi)

Playhouse Company hits the mark with admirable festive production. (Review by Keith Millar)

To celebrate is to rejoice and enjoy entertaining activities in order to acknowledge an important occasion. Well, the Playhouse Company certainly hit the mark with their admirable production A Christmas Celebration.

With a programme that was jam-packed with a wide variety of Christmas entertainment, there certainly was enough to keep everyone happy. With an abundance of tinsel, glitter, glamour bright lights, colourful costumes and sparkling sets to go along with the appearance of elves, reindeer - and even Santa Claus - there was plenty of good cheer and festive season spirit in the air.

The programme included singing talent such as the impressive jazz artist Judith Sephuma, crooner Tim Moloi, tenor Bongani Tembe, soprano Lauren Dasappa and Nondumiso Tembe. There was also a 200 strong choir which was a combination of the Playhouse Chorale, and the Assemblies of God Church Choir. National Champion School Choir, the Mthwalume Boys Choir also made an appearance.

Most music lovers will agree that the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra is a very special Durban treasure. It was this marvellous orchestra, conducted by Lykele Temmingh that provided the musical accompaniment for the production. For this occasion they were unfortunately tucked away in the orchestra pit and could not always be heard to maximum advantage.

The Playhouse Dance Residency, together with leading Durban Dance Schools, performed several excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s wonderful Nutcracker Suite. It was lovely entertainment with some impressive dance. The very young dancers on show covered themselves in glory and scored very high on the cuteness scale.

The Blue Fire Trapeze/Silk Artists put in a spectacular performance to a backing of Ravel’s stirring Bolero. Their antics and the trapeze swing and on the silk drapes were breathtaking and seemingly death-defying.

The Quattro Femmes String Quartet made an appearance and played Santa is coming to Town. Unfortunately, despite the use of microphones, their efforts were drowned out by the volume from the orchestra. Also one of their violinists zoomed around on roller-skates for no apparent reason.

The choirs sung with passion and elegance, providing several Christmas carols as well as excerpts from Handel’s Messiah. Their rendition of the Halleluiah Chorus was particularly moving.

Of the solo singers, my highlights were Judith Sephuma’s I Know My Redeemer Liveth, Lauren Dasappa’s Glory to God in the Highest and Bongani Tembe’s Oh Holy Night – surely one of the most beautiful Christmas songs ever written- and The Lord’s Prayer. Tembe is the Chief Executive of the KZN Philharmonic and one of the country’s leading arts administrators. I am not sure when he gets time to practice his singing, but he was in fine voice on the night.

Direction of this joyous occasion was in the experienced hands of Ralph Lawson.

A Christmas Celebration was exactly that. The audience were brilliantly entertained and uplifted by this spectacular production. – Keith Millar