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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

TO THE OTHER SIDE (article first published : 2004-09-23)

"In that year there was/an intense visitation/of energy./I left school & went down/to the beach to live./I slept on a roof/At night the moon became/a woman's face./I met the Spirit of Music."

For those not familiar with it, this is a poem by James Douglas Morrison, better known as Jim Morrison of the legendary band, the Doors. This poem, and others that he wrote, form part of the current production at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, To the Other Side. They set the scene for a better understanding of this extraordinary singer who made an indelible mark on the contemporary music world, a man determined to break the bounds of reality and shake people out of their comfort zones.

His meteoric career – linked to that of the Doors – lasted just over five years. He died from a heart attack in Paris in 1971 at the age of 27 after having led a life of excess, drugs and drink but leaving the world with a legacy of unique music.

Producer Stephen Woodroffe and director Tanya van der Walt have wisely stayed away from the eternal musical tribute format we see so much of these days and have introduced a dramatic element with the vocalist Jim being shadowed by the soul of the man. Tanya is also responsible for a good script which skilfully weaves the storyline into the music.

Cedric Vandenschrik is the best I have ever seen him and Jim Morrison’s music is obviously very close to his heart. He gives a focused, commanding and tightly-controlled interpretation of a singer out of his head with booze or drugs. Wild-haired and wide-eyed, he slowly disintegrates as the constant pressure to satisfy audience expectations takes its toll.

As the soul of The Lizard King – “I am the man who died while the legend lived on” – is Quincy Fynn, a quieter more introspective Morrison. Quincy came into his own towards the end of the show as he re-enacted the headline-making concert when Morrison single-mindedly and deliberately destroyed his career with his behaviour.

Representing the Doors, the excellent musical combo is headed by musical director Burton Naidoo (as Ray Manzarak), Don Hastings (as John Densmore), Graeme Barnes (as Robbie Kruger) amd Joe van de Linden as the mythical bass player. Wendy and Kerry McFall appear as gogo dancers.

They’re all there – the numbers that have Morrison fans responding with delight – Break on Through to the Other Side, Gloria, Light My Fire, The End, Unknown Soldier, Hello I Love You, LA Woman and Riders on the Storm, to name a few.

The show is accompanied by strong visuals projected onto a huge screen, ranging from archival footage to beautiful mood images. Stefan Barbeau has manufactured a good replica of Jim Morrison’s famous belt. Oh, and do buy a programme, it’s well presented and highly informative.

The Doors – To the Other Side runs until October 10 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Tickets between R65 and R85 available at Computicket. Further information from the theatre on 031 260 2296. – Caroline Smart.




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