national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, May 25, 2019


(Pic by Robz Millar)

Fun, frolic, great outfits, hectic high heels and lots of feathers make up The Family Players’ final production. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Opening with dramatic music and lighting, followed by statuesque figures wearing massive feather headdresses, one could almost feel catapulted from the Rhumbelow Theatre to the old Extravaganza shows at Sun City.

Fun, frolic, great outfits, hectic high heels and lots of feathers make up what is The Family Players’ final production. Adieu is presented by The Family Players Drag troupe which was formed in 1986 by David Hierons, the late John Cavaheir, Derek Snyders-Pearce, the late Gavin Young, Greg Baptie, Kevin Mardon and Patrick Dalais.

(Right: Belinda Dolphin & Anthony Stonier. Pic by Robz Millar)

Adieu features the remaining members of The Family Players - Derek Snyders-Pearce, Greg Baptie, Allan Quihampton and Roland Stansell - who lip-sync a large variety of popular numbers. Guest artist is Belinda Dolphin who does some real singing and was particularly good in Ag Pleez Daddy and I’m Still Here.
The show is directed by Anthony Stonier who MC’s the first half and then gets to perform the final numbers, giving his usual triumphant passion to I Am What I Am and The Best of Times.

(Left: Roland Stansell. Pic by Robz Millar)

The programme mainly features solo numbers with the full cast only coming together on a few occasions. This could probably be due to the frantic costume changes that are required – not easy in the Rhumbelow Theatre’s backstage area!

There are some stand-out numbers among the fun and frolic - Roland Stansell in a preposterous red wig gave his sultry all to Teach Me Tiger and acted hugely inebriated in Della Reese’s Three O’Clock in the Morning.

A pure delight was Allan Quihampton’s rendition of I’m Not Bitter and his duo with Greg Baptie in Aah Ma. Baptie himself appeared in a number of elegant gowns and he impressed with his energy in Proud Mary.

(Right: Allan Quihampton. Pic by Val Bottomley)

The organisation that is Rhumbelow Theatre - which now does regular performances in Durban, Tina’s Hotel in Kloof, the Allan Wilson Shellhole in Pietermaritzburg and in Durban North - owes its very existence to the Family Players.

(Below: Greg Baptie. Pic by Robz Millar)

Derek Pearce, who captivated with a beautiful performance of What Makes a Man and proves that he can do a high kick even in a nun’s cassock (excerpt from Sister Act), explains the history:

“The reason for forming the troupe was to entertain the aged at the different old age homes, retirement complexes such as TAFTA, MOTHA homes, and Bill Buchanan, to raise funds for their venues. Proceeds from the door went to the venue. As members, we used to fund all our own costumes and make up.

 (Right: Derek Pearce. Pic by Val Bottomley)

“Over the years we have lost a few members of the team, but they will always be remembered. The Family Players did get to appear in a few cabarets with two of Durban’s legendary drag artistes, namely Rene Rees (AKA Stephen Kent) and The Pennay (AKA Stephen Roach) The Family Players have opened new gay clubs, as well as  promotional gigs for companies.

“We were then approached by the late Elaine Jennings (TAFTA -Anna Conradie centre) to produce a show for the residents at Anna Conradie centre. Our very first big production CafĂ© Parisienne went down so well, it ran for six weekends at the venue. That show even travelled all the way to Eshowe to help raise funds for the MOTH homes.

“We were approached by the late Neil Hough who suggested we have a look at the Rhumbelow Shellhole Memorial Hall as it had a stage and dressing rooms. After a few negotiations with the Rhumbelow Executive Committee, a few alterations, fixing up the stage, adding a few curtains, The Rhumbelow Theatre became a permanent home for The Family Players.

“In the past 17 years we have had such fun putting on shows at the Rhumbelow, but it is time to take that final bow and time for the curtain to come down. I am quite sure The Family Players will be remembered for a while yet, as their genre of zany comedy drag is not like the new drag scene that one sees on the TV or You Tube.

“Lastly, on behalf of the other founding members, I would like to thank TAFTA, MOTHWA, Durban theatre patrons, The Rhumbelow Shellhole, Roland Stansell, the critics and all the artistes that have performed in our shows, for their love and support over the past 30 years. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

While it was a highly entertaining evening full of fun and nonsense, there was a sad element to Adieu as it formed a farewell to the Family Players as two of their members – Derek Pearce and Greg Baptie – are emigrating shortly. So, please offer your support and go and see it.

Adieu takes two more performances – tonight (Saturday May 25) at 20h00 and tomorrow (Sunday May 26) at 14h00 at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo. (Venue opens 90 minutes before show for picnic dinner)

Tickets R150 (R130 pensioners, students with a valid student card and tables of eight or more - discounts apply 1st weekend only). R75 under 13s.

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 – Caroline Smart