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8TEASE – REVIEW (article first published : 1999-10-12)

8Tease is the latest show at the Wild Coast Sun’s Wild Orchid Showbar and is directed and choreographed by Julie de Jager who has been involved in a number of previous productions at the venue, including X-Posure, Flashback and Banned. The cast, headed by feature singer Kerry Foreshaw (21), includes Sean Lane, Ebrahim West, Charles Mashoko, Caroline Boucher, Chantal Geyer, Suzanne Smithdorf and Cathy van Vuuren.

In this fast moving and well-constructed production which features hits from the 80’s, the cast has to cope with major competition from an unusual quarter - their own costumes! Designed by Julie de Jager and executed by Sue Hicks of Just Sew, they were innovative, classy and uncluttered. Black and red were predominant colours, there was good use of silver stud and most outfits incorporated a lattice theme.

In the past, the Wild Orchid Showbar has normally hosted topless shows but 8Tease offers not one glimpse of a bare breast although body-hugging see-through outfits such as the black lace leotards conceal very little. And, judging by the response from the male members of the audience, this design feature proved the old adage that a sexy image is created not by what’s shown but rather by the little that is revealed, leaving the rest to the individual’s imagination.

Another welcome feature of 8Tease is the crop of new faces on the Wild Orchid stage, with Durban dancer Cathy van Vuuren being the only cast member who has appeared in the venue before. Apart from performing in the Wild Coast Sun’s Decadance, she appeared in The Beatles and Phil Collins at the Playhouse.

The opening of 8Tease presents a visual impact of shimmering gold and bronze with the male dancers dressed in loose trousers with dramatic strapped tops. Julie de Jager has wisely allowed the show to “breathe” a little. So, instead of the non-stop grimly determined bump and grind delivery usually associated with this kind of entertainment, she has incorporated changes of mood such as an elegant adagio from Suzanne Smithdorf (an unbelievably youthful 37!) and Charles Mashoko. Other notable numbers were a perky duo with Chantal Geyer and Caroline Boucher dressed in heart-embossed costumes with sequinned bustles, a Pierrot clown sequence with dancers in floating white chiffon and one that featured high-backed chairs in the style of Can Can.

Feathers were used to good advantage, often adorning chic and sophisticated tight-fitting head-dresses. The closeness of the audience to the stage, however, posed a disadvantage to the most dramatic outfits with their stunning cut-out back feature. In a larger venue with the stage further away, they would have worked but in this intimate venue, the zip was all-too visible and spoilt the effect.

While vocalist Kerry Foreshaw was charming, enthusiastic and easy on the eye, she has neither the experience nor the stamina yet to cope with a show of this nature and was occasionally off-key in solo numbers. This is a slick show that demands a very high level of energy from its cast as there are few numbers when the whole ensemble is not on stage. Another problem I had was the cross-dressing number Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. With Malcolm Terry and, closer to home, Anthony Stonier doing female impersonations so well, anyone else – particularly with only 30 seconds or so to hastily don a wig, dress and high heels – can only come off a poor second.

All credit to Reg Habib for his stage and set design with the silver-coloured side panels picking up visual images and dramatic coloured lighting effects. 8Tease is set to run for six months, ending in March 2000. Apart from the show and the glorious surroundings being a tempting drawcard to the Wild Coast Sun, the crab curry on offer in Chico’s Restaurant is simply delicious!


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