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Saturday, December 15, 2018


(Andy Turrell, Adrian Wilson, Barry Thomson, Marion Loudon & Dawn Selby)
(Pic by Barry Meehan)

Christmas Crackers is a fabulous show with an abundance of superb music. Just what is needed to lift the spirits during this festive season. (Review by Keith Millar)

'Tis the season to be jolly!

Well, one way to get into the spirit of things would be to visit Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre and join in in the hugely entertaining, flat-out rock ‘n roll party that is Christmas Crackers.

It features guitar supremo Barry Thomson and Friends who perform a selection of songs taken from The Reals popular Tribute Shows such as Woodstock, Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and The Eagles. It is a veritable ‘best of….’. There is also an assortment of well-loved Christmas music.

Thomson’s “Friends” for the production are all out of the top drawer. The ebullient, vivacious and super-talented singer Marion Loudon is at her brilliant best, while Dawn Selby, who is also the Musical Director of the show, displays all her usual virtuoso skills at the keyboards and on vocals.

They are supported by the laid-back Andy Turrell on bass and Rhumbelow newcomer, Adrian Wilson on drums.

The show starts with Thomson playing an electric guitar version Ode To Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. It sets the tone for his superlative work on the guitar throughout the production. His guitar solos are uniformly gob-smacking.

This is followed by John Lennon’s So This is Christmas, probably the best of the Christmas songs on offer. So, let’s get the Christmas music out of the way and then concentrate on the important stuff.

Interspersed through the show are songs such as Rocking Around The Christmas Tree, Jingle Bell Rock, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and a saucy Marion Loudon, dressed in a sexy red mini, doing justice to Aretha Kitt’s Santa Baby.

These songs, along with a stage bedecked in tinsel set the Christmas atmosphere for the show, which is in essence a wonderful celebration of rock music.

The late great Stevie Ray Vaughn’s The House Is Rockin’ is followed by the Monkees’ I’m a Believer – a song written by Neil Diamond.

Then comes the highpoint of the entire show. Four songs from The Reals’ Tribute to Woodstock. It comprised of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (They Paved Paradise and Put in a Parking Lot), A fabulous version of Janis Joplin’s A Piece Of My Heart by Dawn Selby and Barry Thomson stirring performance of Joe Cockers With a Little Help From My Friends.

But the best was the rousing performance of Joplin’s Me and Bobby McGee by Marion Loudon. What more can be said about this consummate entertainer. Back in her comfort zone after her rather iffy production, The Fabulous 4, she is absolutely magnificent. She expends enough energy in her performance to make inroads into South Africa’s power shedding problems.

Also heard in the first half are Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way and Don’t Stop.

There was also a guest performance by a young 14 year-old singer, Faslyn Naidoo, who showed surprising maturity and confidence standing alongside the professional musicians as she performed two big songs, The Eagles Desperado and Hotel California.

(Andy Turrell. Pic by Barry Meehan)

The second half of the show kicks off with a surprise. The multi-talented, over two-metre tall, Andy Turrell dressed in a kilt marches from the rear of the theatre playing the bagpipes. A real fun moment.

The show then carries on with the likes of Queen’s Tie Your Mama Down, Dawn Selby invoking the spirit of Mama Cass with the Mammas and Pappas’ Dream a Little Dream Of Me, Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing, The Eagles’ Take it Easy, Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll (Dawn Selby belting out it on vocals) and, to ring the curtain down, Chuck Berry’s great rocker Johnny B Good.

For good measure, Thompson throws in a couple of light-hearted songs during the course of the show. Eric Idle’s The Bright Side of Life and Bobby McFerrin’s Don't Worry, Be Happy.

Christmas Crackers is a fabulous show with an abundance of superb music. Just what is needed to lift the spirits during this festive season. Support local artists and don’t miss this superior production.

Performances take place at the Durban Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road (off Bartle) in Umbilo from December 14 to 24 with shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 20h00 and on Sundays at 14h00. On Monday December 17 there will be a show at 14h00 and on the 24th at 18h30. (Venue opens 90 minutes before show for drinks)

Tickets R150 (R130 pensioners, students with a valid student card and tables of eight or more). Family Pack Pricing (R300 for two adults and two children free). Discounts apply 1st week ONLY.

Take along food picnic baskets. Braais will be available. There is limited secure parking and booking is essential. A cash bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises). Rhumbelow Durban is situated at 42 Cunningham Road off Bartle Road in Umbilo.

Booking is through Computicket or contact Roland on 082 499 8636, email (also for group booking discounts of 20 or more) or visit – Keith Millar