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Saturday, July 7, 2018


(Cat Simoni)

We Luv Abba! is a must for all lovers of the music of this prodigious pop group. (Review by Keith Millar)

Friday night marked a very special occasion in the history of Durban’s popular supper theatre venue, the Rhumbelow in Umbilo.

After a seven month shut-down the venue reopened, freshly renovated and re-equipped. While the venerable old place is looking beautifully grand and spruced up, I am happy to say that it still retains all its quaint and quirky charm.

Friday night also marked the start of the 18th year of operation of the Rhumbelow Theatre. A remarkable achievement in these days of uncertainty in the theatre industry. Huge credit goes to impresario extraordinaire, Roland Stansell, whose single-minded determination and perseverance has ensured that this gem of a venue continues to offer entertainment to Durban audiences through thick and thin.

The production chosen for the grand re-opening was We Luv Abba! starring chanteuse Cat Simoni, with Paul Spence as director and co-star.

There were two great moments in this show when Cat Simoni showed off her virtuosity on the piano while singing soulful versions of the Swedish pop group ABBA’s 1979 hits, Chiquita and I Have a Dream. Both were beautifully and movingly sung by this talented singer.

However, the rest of the show was a mish-mash of corny dialogue, ham acting, bad accents, loud backtracks and back-up singing that did not meet the standard.

The concept of trying to turn the life and music of one of the greatest pop groups of all time into a comedy escapes me.

The performance of the two songs mentioned above are an indication of what an ABBA tribute show could have been, rather than this production which smacked of disrespect to the iconic group.

Having said that, the majority of the full house audience seemed to love the show as they sang and clapped along with the music and found Spence’s constant clowning-about very funny. So maybe I am wrong.

Cat Simoni, who has appearances at prestigious London venues like The Ritz, Dorchester, Carlton and Savoy on her CV, plays blond singer Agnetha Fältskog in the first half and then becomes brunette Anni-Frid Lyngstad in the second half, while Spence plays Björn Ulvaeus throughout.

Together they perform many of Abba’s big and memorable hits. One is inclined to forget just how many there were in this group’s 10 year career.

We Luv Abba! is a must for all lovers of the music of this prodigious pop group. Whatever your favourite songs are, I am sure you will find them included in this show.

The show still has performances at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road in Umbilo tonight (July 7 at 20h00) and tomorrow (July 8 at 14h00). (Venue opens 90 minutes before show for picnic dinner).

Tickets are R150 pp and are available from Computicket or by contacting Roland on Cell 082 499 8636 or email:

Bring food picnic baskets. Braais are available as is limited secure parking. Bar available (no alcohol may be brought onto the premises) – Keith Millar