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Sunday, December 20, 2020


(Trevor Donjeany; Barry Thomson, Andy Turrell; Marion Loudon & Dawn Selby)

If you want to be transported out of the Covid blues and be reminded what Christmas feels like, then book now for the “Jingle Bell Rock” run at Tina’s Hotel to bring in the New Year. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The Rhumbelow Durban stage was transformed into a Christmas delight for the show Jingle Bell Rock – mike stands covered in tinsel, a Father Christmas figure at the foot of the stage, silver wreaths and glittering lights, accentuated by some glittery costumes, a good lighting design and strong sound support.

Joy to the World and its single deep bell chime sets the tone for the Christmas experience and The Reals immediately launch into an upbeat and joyous Jingle Bell Rock. This offers a good choice of music from compilations – a great selection of rock numbers, highly appreciated by an audience who bopped along to the rhythms all the way through. I was seated behind most of the audience and whenever I looked around to see how they were responding, there was movement in every body. That in itself, is a sure sign that the show has reached its audience!

Guitarist Barry Thomson explains his association with the other musicians over a vast number of years – singer Marion Loudon, drummer Andy Turrell and keyboardist Dawn Selby. He welcomed the new face to the Reals, Trevor Donjeany, who was the late Johnny Clegg’s bass player for 14 years.

The song list comprises numbers from shows that The Reals have done before, including Harvest Moon and Thomson’s own version of Wish You Were Here from his solo show, Learning to Fly. The latter was a wistful reminder that many people won’t be able to be with loved ones and family this Christmas.

The show’s first section paid tribute to the late Ricky McGregor (Richard Hose), a musician they had worked with on many occasions but who sadly passed away earlier this month. This was a medley of numbers from California Dreaming which McGregor put together many years ago at the now defunct Heritage Theatre.

The interaction between the musicians is evident – they “talk” to each other through the music. The harmonising is good and the numbers move seamlessly from one song to the next. Loudon’s bright and sparkling performance emits an energy that is contagious, drawing the focus to whoever is handling the solo sections. She sparkles like a decoration.

One of the highlights was Donjeany’s bass solo from Samba Pati by Santana.

Although placed at the back of the stage and therefore behind the singers, Turrell’s interaction and enjoyment was evident.

Thomson linked most of the numbers with interesting information, particularly in the Tribute to Neil Diamond when he sang the beautiful duet The Story of My Life with Selby, with a good balance between his strength and her gentleness. He also made the strong point that it’s a battle to find songs now as modern songs do not speak to the masses as much as rock did – and still does.

“The Beatles put you in your place with their musical skills” admits Thomson but The Reals certainly did great justice to Golden Slumbers.

Numbers from Bad Company included Ready for Love and Run with the Pack. Stand by for a full Bad Company show which The Reals are planning for next year.

Christmas is also celebrated with red hats, although Barry took his off after a short time as it’s a bit difficult to change guitars with a towering thing on your head! Their own version of The 12 Days of Christmas was a delight!

You can’t fail to be swept away by this show. It’s full of powerful and forceful energy and offers a major tonic at this extraordinary time.

If you want to be transported out of the Covid blues and be reminded what Christmas feels like, then mark your diaries now for the Jingle Bell Rock run at Tina’s Hotel to bring in the New Year.

Jingle Bell Rock runs at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof from December 27 to 31. Booking is essential: email: (Venue opens 90 minutes before show for drinks and meals can be ordered from the Tina’s kitchen)

Tickets R160 (R140 pensioners, R130 Loyalty Card Holders). Booking is essential: email: or visit

A bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises). Limited secure parking.

75 PEOPLE MAX PER SHOW (50% Capacity)





The venue is highly Covid-compliant. – Caroline Smart