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THE MAGNIFICENT 7 2 (article first published : 2007-09-8)

The next round of musical anthropology and high jinxs will be taking to the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre stage from September 18 to 30 as comedian Aaron McIlroy teams up with Port Elizabeth’s Centrestage once again to present the follow-up to The Magnificent 7.

The Magnificent 7 2 – The Next Generation moves the focus from the 60’s to the 70’s and 80’s as the Centrestage All-Star band (Casb) expertly and authentically recreates the concert experience of the next seven magnificent bands – namely The Electric Light Orchestra, The Eagles, Smokie, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Fleetwood Mac, U2 and our very own Juluka. McIlroy’s unusual characters cut into the action once again to provide hilarious “insights” from his zany perspective into musical matters going on around him.

The Magnificent 7 2 follows the extraordinary box office successes of its predecessor, which boasted sell-out runs in Durban and in other parts of the country. The new show has been similarly received, coming to the East Coast in the wake of a 15,000 ticket sales season in the Eastern Cape.

The formula of an extremely talented, experienced, confident, hard-working band which puts an entertainment spin on the music, reinvents its sound and look seven times in one evening, combined with a careful selection of best loved songs, wrapped in the side-splitting, self-deprecating and audience interactive McIlroy humour, makes for an unbeatable evening’s entertainment.

The likable Gino Fabbri is on drums, with Mike McAully on bass, the unstoppable Wayne Kallis and Doonovan Hattingh on guitar, with keyboard duties shared by Candy G and Rory McLaren. Ace vocalist Melvyn Matthews joins the Casb to lend his dynamic vocal style and ability to whip an audience into a frenzy to the proceedings, fronting on the Bob Marley and Juluka segments of the show.

“The glamour vocal department is again headed up by Donna Africa and Lelane Fourie, with dancers Zamakholo and Shoes completing the line-up”, says musical director Donovan Hattingh. “Once again, we have taken great care to recreate the sound of the original bands as closely as possible. The Juluka segment was the most challenging, but I think that the audience will be surprised at how close we manage to capture the African sound.”

Adds Centrestage owner Gary Hemmings: “A distinguishing aspect of the band is the fact that every instrumentalist in the band also has a great voice – and is as comfortable up front revving the audience as they are at their station. An example of this versatility is keyboardist Rory McLaren, whose tribute to Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up embraces a completely different genre. Rory’s tribute can be seen at the Hilton Festival this year. The choice of just who makes the cut to carry the description of being in the seven most magnificent bands of each time period will naturally always be one of great debate. ”Some of the criteria we used to decide is the depth of each band’s hit songbook – with the specific requirement of having at least five hits that are up-tempo or have high impact show qualities that the general audience will recognize instantly”.

This is achieved through popular selections in the show including, amongst others, Hold on Tight to Your Dreams and Rock n Roll is King for ELO fans, Desperado and Hotel California representing The Eagles, Needles and Pins and Alice flying the Smokie sing-along flag, getting reggae’d with Buffalo Soldier and Could You Be Loved in the Bob Marley set, Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop and Tusk, U2’s Where the Streets have No Name and Still Haven’t Found and Juluka’s Impi and Great Heart.

Catch the Centrestage All-Star band as they recapture the magic of the 70’s and 80’s. “Bring your boogie shoes and bring some tissues to wipe away the tears of laughter!” promises the publicity material.

The Magnificent 7 2 – The Next Generation Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre stage from September 18 to 30 Tickets are available through Computicket.




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