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LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL (article first published : 2005-12-8)

Following their festive season favourites, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2003) and Nunsense (2004), director Mark Hawkins and musical director Evan Roberts have produced Let The Good Times Roll with choreography and staging by David Gouldie. Described as “a rollercoaster ride of old favourites with some twists and turns”, it offers a solid music choice for the festive season.

Let the Good Times Roll stars well-known Durban personalities Shelley McLean and Nothando Ngubane alongside Gauteng-based Granville Michaels who has been seen more recently at the Barnyard Theatre. In fact within the first ten minutes or so of Let the Good Times Roll, the audience could be forgiven for thinking: “It’s the Barnyard come to the Sneddon!”

However, that’s where the comparison starts and ends. While Let The Good Times Roll may be a compilation show, it has an all-pervading sense of style and sophistication and Mark Hawkins’ original description in early press releases as an “incredibly visual show “ can be taken as a master of understatement.

Lighting designer Michael Broderick has excelled himself in what I believe to be his finest work on the theatre circuit to date. The stars appear in a wide-ranging and attractive array of outfits and well-known fashion gurus Terrence Bray, Colleen Eitzen and Amanda Laird Cherry are acknowledged in the programme.

Crowd pleasers were undoubtedly You’re Beautiful, I’m a Woman, Every Little Thing, Too Good to be True and Shelley’s interpretation of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with its beautiful solo guitar accompaniment by John Stengel. Other highlights were Rowan Stuart’s guitar solo and his Black Magic Woman. Granville Michaels brought the house down with the Tina Turner send-up, Simply the Best and his interaction with Shelley in I Would do Anything for Love. Nothando is a generous performer and her Weekend Special was a strong favourite with the audience as was Evan Roberts’ presentation of the title song, feet on keyboards and all!

There is a good choral backing of singers who lend power and harmonies to certain numbers. Representing two groups of eight singers, they alternate each night and come from schools in the Durban area.

The band features Evan Roberts (keyboard), Tom Hare (sax and bongos), Bruce Baker (drums), John Stengel (bass guitar) and Rowan Stuart (lead guitar). Among the highlights of the evening was a solo drum performance where Bruce Baker excelled in a sequence which ranged from clear-cut pizzicato to the deep roar of the larger drums.

Jackie Cunniffe’s sound design is virtually faultless which makes a nice change from some of the other productions on the circuit at present! Interesting to see the recently-launched DarkHorse productions – respected theatre technicians Jane Cross and Megan Levy – moving into the realm of set design. Their white stage with silvery panels and mirrored steps provides a perfect background for the lighting.

Let The Good Times Roll runs until December 31 and is dedicated to the memory of Professor Elizabeth Sneddon, after whom the theatre is named. Performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h30. Tickets R90 with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 15h00 when tickets are R65. There are no performances on Mondays or public holidays.

There are two special performances. Christmas Eve (December 24 at 18h30) includes Carols by Candlelight with the cast and band. The last night of the season on New Year’s Eve starts at 22h00 and includes a countdown to 2006 with streamers, balloons and complimentary champagne at a ticket price of R200 (all inclusive). Book at Computicket, with credit card bookings on 083 915 8000 or visit www.computicket.co.za – Caroline Smart




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