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COMING TO HERITAGE (article first published : 2005-04-16)

Major additions and improvement to the Hillcrest Village Heritage Market, situated in Old Main Road, Hillcrest, include a 7,000sq.m addition at the cost of around R55 million. The vision is to develop the site into becoming the most popular “night time” destination in the upper Highway area. Some of the major restaurant chains such as The Butcher Boys, Zacks, The Bangkok Wok and Europa are already operating within the new complex.

Situated in this new section is a brand new supper theatre venue called The Heritage Theatre (see separate article on these pages). “It’s a well-known fact that a huge number of theatre going patrons reside in the upper highway area”, says experienced theatre entrepreneur Gary McKenzie who will manage the theatre. “This represents a huge opportunity for residents as far a field as Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands, to enjoy theatre right on their doorsteps. The plan is to stage a wide spectrum of productions that range in genres from “rock and roll table-bangers” to sophisticated cabaret, from stand-up comedy to panto and drag. “I want to re-create the variety of shows that the Playhouse Cellar used to offer Durban audiences fifteen years ago”, says McKenzie.

The Heritage Theatre will also be running a "Monday Programe" throughout the year which will offer a wide-ranging programme of special one-off events from recitals to comedy, magic to choral works and local schools performances. The Monday Programme will be co-ordinated by established theatre producer and festival manager Sue Clarence whose experience includes running the Hilton and Kearsney festivals.

The line-up for the following six months is launched with a massive input of energy from Aaron McIlroy with his The Stand Up presented by Macbob Productions fresh from the Catalina Theatre. Aching abs and tears of mirth are forecast in this all-new one-man show, co-written and directed by Susan Monteregge, as the inimitable Aaron casts his laser-beam gaze on the why’s, wherefore’s and where-with-all’s that make up the fabric of stage comedy. The Stand Up runs from April 21 to May 15.

A Twist of Broadway promises to entertain die-hard musical fans as well as first-time audiences ready to explore the fanciful world of musicals. The star cast will include acclaimed stage actor and television personality, David Dennis; Karen Van Pletsen (winner of Best Female Vocalist 2004 for Lady Sings The Blues and currently in Love Actually), and Nothando Ngubane (Nunsense and currently in California Dreaming). Musical Direction will be in the capable hands of Rulof Coelyn, flamboyant star of A Handful of Keys and Larikeraai, and the band features Melvin Peters. The wide-ranging musical selection includes excerpts from well-known shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Chess, Sarafina, Annie, Fiddler on the Roof and Les Misérables. It will also include numbers from some of the fabulous international productions which have yet to reach our shores: Aida, Rent and The Lion King. Some will be performed as expected - straight and sweet- while others will be parodied,” twisted” and spiced with swing! A Twist of Broadway runs from May 17 to June 19.

Over the July holidays, Johnny Be Good will be presented by Durban's longest running and most popular cabaret group, the Gee Jays, who will front a high-energy rock and roll show with guest soloists. Entering their 20th year together, Gary McKenzie, John Didlick and Grant Bell will perform their brand-new rock ‘n roll show featuring a carefully-chosen mix of close harmony 50's swing and rock and roll favourites. They will perform for the first time with a live band, under the musical direction of Dawn Selby. Expect the usual zany antics and cheeky one-liners as well as a bit of a twist. Johnny Be Good runs from June 21 to July 31.

Very Very Big Productions will follow the Gee Jays with a new and vivacious extravaganza entitled Burlesque. Inspired by the era, this musical will feature some of Durban’s top names performing wild and daring routines that will keep audiences intrigued and breathless. This fast-paced show will feature unspeakable acts of magic, contortion and vocal antics that will have you coming back for more. Music from Bjork and Susan Vega will contemporise the very sexy sultry era of Burlesque into a modern day smash hit musical. Burlesque runs from August 8 to September 18.

From then until the end of the year, contracts with various performers are still being negotiated but what one production is certain and that is a brand new one-man show from writer, director, performer and theatre impresario Ian Von Memerty. As yet untitled, it will be directed by Charmaine Weir-Smith and is scheduled to run for one week only from September 20 to 25.

All information is correct at time of going to print. Enquiries can be directed to (031) 201 7627.

Tickets for The Stand Up are R140 which includes a two-course meal and show ticket. Please note there is a special pudding a la carte menu. There is one low price preview on April 20 (R120). Times are Tuesday to Saturday at 19h00 for supper with the show at 20h30. (Sunday 12h30 lunch for 14h00 show.) Bookings on 031 765 4197.




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