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SPIRIT OF BROADWAY (article first published : 2003-06-19)

If the budget doesn’t permit you to get to see top musical shows on the West End or on Broadway, then Spirit of Broadway will offer a pretty good substitute.

The brand new sister show of Spirit of the Dance which recently completed a highly successful run in Durban and features mainly the same company, Spirit of Broadway offers a visually superb tribute to Broadway musical hits from the legendary Oklahoma to the more contemporary Chess.

In the cast are a number of South African artistes and Durbanites will obviously thrill to the performances of their long-time favourite David Dennis and the well-known Taryn Sudding who has often appeared in Durban.

David Dennis proved that no matter how much the sound desk pushes up the backing, he has the power to match and triumphantly performed The Impossible Dream and Anthem.

Fiddle player Simon Painter, who wowed audiences in Spirit of the Dance has a more down-played role in this production but impressed in his accompaniment of Taryn in Memory which also featured a very beautiful adagio number.

The Copacabana, All That Jazz and Cabaret were pure showbiz delight as was the more sensitive trio, As Long as He Needs Me.

Definite star of the evening was Steven Serlin who has a great sense of comedy timing and pulled in the laughs, particularly with his “goofed” hippie which served as a preamble to the Hair sequence. Also notable were Mathew Shaw, Kellie Potter, Ntambo Sepeng and Gemma Harris.

The opening scenes for both acts, particularly the second one, are breathtaking and it’s sheer joy to see such a line-up of dancers, although the chorus line itself was often fairly ragged. I also wondered at the logic of using a chimney-sweep for the Alfred Doolittle number from My Fair Lady, fully expecting the cast to move to the more appropriate Mary Poppins which they didn’t. I also missed real tap shoes in the Thoroughly Modern Millie sequence.

Spirit of Broadway doesn’t have the crisp cutting edge of Spirit of the Dance but is well worth a visit nevertheless. It runs in the Playhouse Opera from June 17 to 22. Booking is at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




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