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Saturday, June 16, 2018


(Rhumbelow Theatre manager and entertainment co-ordinator Roland Stansell
peruses the work progress. Pic by Billy Suter)

Article courtesy of Billy Suter (

The countdown has begun to the July 6 reopening of Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo, which closed late last December after it was discovered, during storm damage inspection, that nine beams in the roof were cracked and posed a danger.

The venue, at 42 Cunningham Road, off Bartle Road, will reopen with singer-pianist Catherine Simoni saluting the songs of Abba, in We Luv Abba. Performances are scheduled for 20h00 on July 6 and 7, and 14h00 on July 6.

A visit to the venue – the theatre is in the Rhumbelow Shellhole – shows, after roof repairs, a new, bright, white ceiling with four new white ceiling fans having replaced the old metal fans. The ceiling’s dated, old fluorescent light fittings have given way to 10 circular lights built into the ceiling.

Walls have been painted white and a dark grey with hints of a deep blue, and work is about to start on sanding and restoring the oregon pine flooring in the theatre and on the stage.

The stage is now flanked by curtain railings that will have black curtaining which will also be used to fully hide the window areas on each side of the hall. A decision has still to be made about the colour of the stage’s proscenium arch.

Plans are afoot to complete the sound and lighting installation and other maintenance in the theatre, and a new sound desk is soon to be introduced at the centre-back of the auditorium.

Outside, the walls at the theatre entrance have been repainted a stoney-beige compared to the buttercup yellow they were before, and Kevin Snyders Pearce, who runs the tuck shop and makes the light meals at the theatre, has installed a new, tile-top serving counter in his work area, where a new lighting rig is also to be fitted soon.

A 3m wooden propellor from World War 2 is waiting to be fitted above the theatre’s entrance door.

Roland Stansell, manager and entertainment co-ordinator of the Rhumbelow Theatre group, which also has branches at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof and the Allan Wilson Shellhole in Pietermaritzburg, is happy with progress and looking forward to the reopening of the theatre.

After Cat Simoni’s Abba show the venue will host The Blarney Brothers from July 13 to 15, followed by Dave Monks and Marion Loudon with The Swinging Sixties show from July 20 to 22, then Dave Starke and Two Bit Mac with their James Taylor and Carole King tribute show from July 27 to 29.

Also of note is that a special fundraiser, to help cover costs of the Umbilo theatre’s renovation, is to be held at Glenwood Boys’ High School at 14h00 on June 24. It will feature Barry Thomson and The Reals with guests.

“This show is a double feature, celebrating our 17th year operating at the Rhumbelow Moth Hall in Durban, and to assist us with the renovation and reinstallation of the theatre equipment, ensuring a brand new revitalised theatre to start our 18th year,” says Stansell.

Tickets cost R150. Call Roland at 082 499 8636 to book. – Billy Suter

Bookings for the Rhumbelow Theatre shows are through Computicket.