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Thursday, October 18, 2018


(Dylan van de Linde; Kirsty Madgin; Ofentse Mokhuane & Evan Cullum. 
Pic by Barry Meehan)

Evan Cullum, who sports black jackets with spangled motifs, is definitely the star of the show. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Looking at the mass of songs that Elton John has created so far in his illustrious career, it must have been a daunting task for singer/pianist Evan Cullum to decide what to choose or what to leave out with the show he has just created titled Elton & Friends which is set to run at Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof this weekend.

Performing with Cullum are Kirsty Madgin on saxophone and vocals, Dylan van de Linde on percussion and Ofentse Mokhuane on vocals. All four appeared in the highly-entertaining Rock ‘n Roll Nerds which played Tina’s in July this year.

The show starts off with an amusing video extract from James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, a feature of his The Late Late Show television talk show on CBS. Corden is seated behind the wheel of a vehicle as Elton John, flashily dressed in his inimitable style, hops into the passenger seat. Snippets of this interview appear throughout the show. Other images see a very young Elton John performing in front of huge crowds as well as with other famous names such as Stevie Wonder. The video also covered him performing his re-written Candle In The Wind at Princess Diana’s funeral.

“This light-hearted tribute to Sir Elton John is hoping to take the audience along a relaxing journey through some of Elton John’s hit songs as well as some surprise performances from various “guest” artists,” explains Cullum

Mokhuane gets the party going in style, wearing an emerald green jacket and glasses studded with blue diamante, with Bitch is Back. Cullum takes over the vocals with Sacrifice and thereafter the programme intermingles Elton John songs with those like Heard it on the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye, George Michael (Careless Whisper); Rachel Platten (Better Place) and Vanessa Carlton (1000 Miles).

Madgin comes into her own as a vocalist in the second half, attractively dressed in blue sequins. Perching on the piano and tossing her long hair, she gives us a good rendition of Don't Go Breaking My Heart and, later sings Better Place with much sensitivity.

Mokhuane has the right energy and dynamics for numbers such as Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me and Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud.

Dylan van de Linde, usually seen with a much larger drum kit than he works on in this show, provides consistently good percussion back-up.

Cullum, who sports black jackets with spangled motifs, is definitely the star of the show. An excellent pianist and singer, he doesn’t try to be Elton John but gives the lyrics their full value. His solo numbers, especially those requiring poignancy such as Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, were riveting.

The show was called in at short notice, apparently, which explains certain opening night technical glitches. More links to the songs and video clips would help a smoother flow. However, this is a very professional group with an efficient technical crew and there is no doubt that changes will be made to improve the production before its next performance.

Elton & Friends runs from tomorrow (Friday, October 19 to 21) with shows Friday and Saturday at 20h00 and Sunday at 14h00. (The theatre venue opens 90 minutes before show for drinks)

Tickets R150 (R130 pensioners and students with a valid student card) and tables seat 6. (No alcohol or food may be brought on to the premises). Tickets are cash or EFT only. Secure parking is available. Booking is through Computicket or contact Roland (also for large group booking discounts of 20 or more) on 082 499 8636 or email: or visit

Tina’s Hotel is situated at 14 Beryldene Road in Kloof. – Caroline Smart