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BACH TO BARBRA (article first published : 2004-10-23)

If you have seen the posters advertising Bach to Barbra around town, you are no doubt wondering who Barbra is and what she has to do with Bach.

You’ll find the answer at Catalina Theatre. Directed by Caroline Smart, this very unusual show is a clever eclectic mix of music ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to Barbra Streisand.

Smart has combined the talents of experienced opera singer Stacey Almond with those of newcomers to the theatre scene: violinist Sarah Pudifin and pianist David Daniel. These three musician/performers take us on a musical journey from the classics to Broadway hits of Barbra Streisand and Sarah Brightman and the music of Josh Groban.

Stacey Almond, an experienced, highly talented singer/performer sings well-known operatic arias, light classical pieces and a variety of musical theatre numbers, most of them supported by soundtrack enhancements (the opera crossover jargon for backing tracks). My favourite items were Second Hand Rose, Harem and Carmina Burana.

I was awestruck by the pure talented genius of violinist Sarah Pudifin. I am envious enough of anyone who is able to master this instrument but Sarah (who apparently is only 19 years old) and this instrument become one as she plays seemingly effortlessly. She performs various Bach favourites and also displays the 'Vanessa Mae' electric violin technique.

Genial and endearing pianist David Daniel has also created all the backing track/soundtrack enhancements and ensures that the music caters for a wide range of musical tastes.

I went on opening night so there were a few technical hitches, which I'm sure have been sorted out by now. I did battle to hear the dialogue between the performers. The music stands so strong on its own that I wondered whether all the dialogue was necessary.

The set and lighting designs were simple and yet very effective. A few baroque style pillars, a railing and clever creative lighting on this intimate stage were all that was needed to take our imaginations from Baroque Europe to Broadway. Costumes and props, although kept to a minimum were fun and show biz 'glitsy'.

Bach to Barbra runs at the Catalina Theatre at Wilsons Wharf until October 31. Tickets R60 (R50 concessions). To book call the Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889. – Rosanne Hurly




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