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DIVAS TO A T (article first published : 2005-02-21)

The term "diva" has been bandied about a little too liberally recently, with the title being awarded to singers whose only claim to it is to be female. Thus says the publicity for Tonya Koenderman’s short run at the Umbilo-based Rhumbelow Theatre. “But what exactly is a diva?”, it goes on to ask. One of South Africa's hottest cabaret artists, Tonya sums them up to a "T", as it were: "They are slightly eccentric, slightly over the top, and ever so slightly melodramatic."

Tonya Koenderman is one of the few performers who is able to recapture the power and sheer drama of the great belters. And this is no more evident than in her successful show, Divas to a T - and with her long-time friend Lisa Bobbert on board as director, it is pleasing on both the eye and the ear.

The show promises to be a musical feast with serial thrillers and gorgeous, slightly revealing costumes. Songs are featured made famous by such divas as Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Gloria Gaynor, Tina Turner and many more.

In true diva style, Tonya adds her own saucy touch to classics like Big Spender, Simply the Best, Somewhere, New York New York, I Will Survive and The Rose. The show has already performed to sold out houses in Durban, East London, Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Cape Town, Nelspruit, and even Seychelles.

After 14 years in show business and hailed by critics as "one of the hottest properties on the cabaret circuit" and "a pint sized dynamo", she continues to wow audiences both locally and abroad.

Tonya started her career fresh out of drama school with Kevin Feather's cabaret, The Dooh Wah Girls in 1990, which ran on and off for four years. Other cabarets under her belt are We 3 with Gordon Mulholland and Paul Andrews, as well as the Cape Town hits, Juke is King, Jive to the Juke and Wurlitzer. More recently she has teamed up with fellow singer, Anne-Marie Clulow to create All of Woman and Shake Your Bootie, both of which have performed to packed houses throughout South Africa.

Her solo cabarets include the hits, Tonya unwrapped, Makin' Whoopee, Liza with a T, Age of Aquarius, Divas to a T and Born To Diva. She performed in the look-alike, sound-alike show Stars in your Eyes which ran for two seasons at the Carousel.

Tonya has worked extensively for Sun International in Extravaganzas such as Jump, Shout, Bop and Boogie and later she starred in Skin Tight and Ooh La Lah, both devised and directed by Bryan Bester. She had the great honour of being the only local artist to star in the Sun City sensation, Beyond Belief, which ran for 16 months at the Sun City Extravaganza.

Tonya has worked at Caesar's casino as the guest artist in the dance extravaganzas, Dazzle, as well as Celebrate both directed by Billy Hogg and Amber Baty.

Shows take place on March 4 and 5 at 20h00 and March 6 at 18h30. The venue opens 90 minutes before show for picnic dinner.

Tickets R50. Take along food picnic baskets and braais will be available. There is limited secure parking and booking is essential. A cash bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises). Rhumbelow Theatre is situated in Cunningham Avenue off Bartle Road.

To book contact Roland on 031 205 7602 (h) or 082 499 8636, or email roland@stansell.za.net




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