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Saturday, August 3, 2019


(Jonathan Roxmouth)

Jonathan Roxmouth brilliantly interweaves the music of Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Stephen Sondheim while infusing his own lyrics to help tell a story with much ironic humour. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Tick the boxes: Are you a fan of tall, handsome, top South African musical theatre personality, Jonathan Roxmouth?

Do you like the music of Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Stephen Sondheim and enjoy them beautifully performed?

Then don’t miss Jonathan Roxmouth’s brilliant handling of Lenny Andrew Steve & Me directed by Wesley Swain Lauder in which he interweaves the music of these three icons while infusing his own lyrics to help tell a story with much ironic humour.

Here in Durban on a season break in The Phantom of the Opera international tour, he has created the show around an explanation of how a successful musical is structured, taking Bernstein, Lloyd-Webber and Sondheim as perfect examples of those who have achieved this universal status.

An integral part of the show is pianist Rowan Bakker who provides excellent accompaniment. One of the highlights of the show is a hilarious sequence when Roxmouth plonks himself on the stool next to him and proves that he can play a keyboard as well!

Tina Le Roux’s splendid lighting design is dramatic and perfectly suits the mood of each number.

Besides the grand piano prop, the stage is set with three stools each representing one of the three musical theatre giants. So if you aren’t quite sure who wrote the number he’s singing, look at which stool is behind him!

Moving with impressive skilfulness, he takes the music of A Little Bit in Love (Bernstein from A Wonderful Town); Love Changes Everything (Lloyd Webber from Aspects of Love) and Loving You (Sondheim from Passion), putting his own lyrics to the songs in an impressive sequence that smoothly melded from one to the other.

Another well-handled medley was Anyone Can Whistle (Sondheim), Whistle Down the Wind (Lloyd Webber) and There’s a Place for Us (Bernstein).

Expect to hear well-known and much-loved numbers such as Sondheim’s Broadway Baby (from Follies) and Everything’s Coming up Roses (from Gypsy); Lloyd Webber’s Any Dream Will Do (from Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat); Another Suitcase in Another Hall and You Must Love Me? (from Evita).
Perhaps less well-known are the Sondheim numbers such as Hello Little Girl (from Into the Woods); Finishing the Hat (from Sunday In The Park With George), and Let the Good Times Roll (from Dick Tracy) but as my late husband was a committed Sondheim fan, these numbers were a delight to me.

Among the quieter moments was an achingly beautiful rendition of Lloyd Webber's Tell Me on a Sunday contrasting with his rendition of Memory, sung with much power and passion.

To close the show, there was also a brilliant version of Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera sung with a ghost light* illuminating only one side of his face, a clever referral to the mask that the Phantom wears.

The show has one more performance tonight at Rhumbelow Durban at 20h00 (tomorrow is sold out). Tickets R180 booked through Roland on 082 499 8636.

(Right: Jonathan Roxmouth as The Phantom)

Roxmouth moves back into his leading role in The Phantom of the Opera on Friday when the company is headed for Tel Aviv for a season there.
 Lenny Andrew Steve & Me will then move to the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino in Johannesburg in September.
 Don’t miss it if it comes to a theatre near you! – Caroline Smart

*A ghost light is an exposed incandescent bulb that is activated when the theatre is closed up and dark, to provide enough light to avoid anyone bumping into set pieces, props or, worse, falling into the open orchestra pit.