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REFLECTIONS (article first published : 2001-07-12)

David Coleman, my late friend and former arts editor of The Mercury, had a theory: “One day dachshunds will rule the world!”

There’s one little dachsie – by the name of Frieda-Jasmine – who certainly rules the life of singer Rory Rootenberg. She steals his thunder in her single appearance in one song by doing nothing other than sitting in his lap. As he croons Sting’s Every breath you take, she responds to his loving looks, licks his cheek and gives him an occasional yawn – just to remind him that he may be playing to an ecstatic audience but she’s seen it all before!

Reflections was scripted and directed by Ian von Memerty who was also the guiding hand behind Rory’s smash-hits Cadenza – Chaos in the Classics and Cadenza X-Trav. He has once again put together a highly enjoyable production which makes the most of Rory’s extensive vocal range and dynamics.

Reflections is a study of contrasts showing how different languages and different music often say the same thing and Rory sings certain songs in tandem to demonstrate this theme. Focusing on music, the production doesn’t have the dramatic appeal of the Cadenza series and there are no props. Just over an hour long, it offers an opportunity to sit back and relax while this consummate performer works through a range of styles from traditional Hebrew ballads or Jacques Brel’s Jackie to an ABBA medley and Lloyd Webber/Steinman’s No Matter What.

Well-known for his innovative cell-phone switch-off reminders, Rory warns his audiences that the first person whose cell phone rings stands a chance of spending the night with Nkosazana Zuma! The stage setting is stark apart from the piano, with an outline of white allowing it to masquerade as a baby grand, and a series of hanging ropes as a backdrop.

Rory includes amusing sketches like the new-age kugel recounting her experiences at a weight-gain farm and a patter song dealing with all the people he would like to have removed from society on his Little List. A signed (deaf language) song has become a traditional part of Rory’s productions and this time, audiences are treated to two numbers; Home from Ian von Memerty’s Fiela’s Child and Amanda Strydom/Didi Kriel’s My Kamer. Another highlight was Jacques Brel’s Carousel dramatically performed in effective lighting.

His pianist for the Durban run is Dawid Boverhoff (alternating with Tony Bentel in other venues) who attended the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School just as Rory did. A genial performer, he is no slouch on the keyboard which stands him in good stead as Rory takes his songs at a fairly brisk pace.

CD’s of the Cadenza series are on sale for R70 before and after the show at the ticket office.

Reflections runs until July 22 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Tickets R60 Friday and Saturday; R45 Tuesday and Sunday, and R50 Wednesday and Thursday. Shows Tuesday to Friday at 19h30, Saturday at 18h00 and 20h30, and Sunday at 18h00. Book at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




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