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Sunday, August 20, 2017


(Rowan Bartlett, Darren King & Brian Hiles)

Plenty of exuberant fun and hilarious humour to go along with the wonderful music. (Review by Keith Millar)

I think it is safe to say that Darren King, Rowan Bartlett and Brian Hiles are among the better-known Durban stage personalities. For years, their names have appeared on the billboards of most of Durban’s foremost stage productions. From children’s theatre to pantomime to the big musicals.

That they can sing there was little doubt as many of the productions they appeared in were musicals – and Brian Hiles, superlative interpretation of Mr Cellophane in Kickstart’s’ production of Chicago earlier this year is still fresh in the mind. But I venture to suggest that theatre fans by and large would have regarded them as actors who could sing.

Well, all that may have to change now after their dazzling performances in their musical cabaret revue Tie a Knot in It (Vegas Baby). Based on the skills they displayed in this production, any one of them could be a singing star in their own right. Together they are absolute dynamite. After this they could be regarded as singers who can act.

Tie a Knot in It is a playful, irreverent and highly enjoyable romp around the entertainment capital of the world – Las Vegas. Along with all the joshing, fooling around and mad-cap behaviour, the cast re-count many off-the-wall facts about the city. They also perform many of the magnificent tunes from the stars who have made the city famous.

The trio promises “Slick moves, witty banter and smooth music” and they deliver by the barrowload. The music of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack feature strongly with standard such as Ain’t That A Kick In The Head, Fly Me To The Moon, Mack The Knife and Mr Bojangles.

Sinatra and his daughter Nancy also get a look in with Something Stupid with the rather large Bartlett hilariously playing Nancy wearing a silly wig and ridiculous eyelashes.

Among other songs we were treated to were Robbie Williams Angel, the Williams’ version of Me and My Shadow, Michael Bubble’s Moondance and Sway, Peggy Lee’s Fever, Barry Manilow’s Copacabana and from Elvis You are Always on My Mind and American Trilogy.

And that was just the first half of this two and half (interval included) long show. Maybe a tad too long? I think not. It certainly had the energy and entertainment value to sustain it to the end.

Included in the second half is music by the Andrews sisters, Britney Spears, more Frank Sinatra, a duet from Billy Joel and ray Charles, Lisa Minnelli, Harry Connick Jr., Elton John, and the Beatles. An absolute smorgasbord of good fun and good music.

Brian Hiles even gave a very good impersonation of an operatic tenor with Placido Domingo’s Perhaps Love, joined by Bartlett as John Denver.

The undoubted musical highlights of the show were the trio’s spine tingling version of American Trilogy and the finale which was a breathtaking acappela version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Throughout the show Hiles, Bartlett and King play around, tease each unmercifully, and just generally have good fun. They use variety of props such as wigs, hats, feather boas and headdresses which, along with their considerable knowledge and experience of stagecraft, ensures that they make the most of every situation. The result is plenty of exuberant fun and hilarious humour to go along with the wonderful music. It is feel-good show which leaves you with a smile on your dial for some time after.

This was my first visit to the Rhumbelow theatre at Tina’s Hotel and I found it to be a well-appointed and very pleasant venue. However, if you wish to eat at the hotel - get there really early. Their kitchen is apparently not capable of getting a meal out within an hour and 15 minutes prior to the show. What you are left with is the choice of eating from a buffet of rather sloppy-looking and expensive stews, or go hungry, as I did.

They also for some inexplicable reason refuse to serve food in the show venue.

Tie a Knot in It (Vegas Baby) will be appearing at the Rhumbelow Theatre Umbilo early in October. Do yourself favour and get to see it. You won’t be disappointed. Tickets R150 with special concessions for loyalty card holder, pensioners and large groups. The venue opens 90 minutes prior to the show and braai fires will be available for those who wish to braai. There is limited parking available at Rhumbelow. A cash bar is available (no alcohol may be brought onto the property.

Booking is essential and may be done via Computicket or by contacting Roland at 082 499 8636 or at – Keith Millar