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MAGNIFICENT 7 (article first published : 2008-01-25)

Last year, Durban audiences gave funnyman Aaron McIlroy and Port Elizabeth’s sensational Centrestage All-Star Band a double thumbs up. They took the town by storm with The Magnificent 7, packing in the crowds at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with their unique song-book tribute to seven of the world’s all-time supergroups, the Beach Boys, Beatles, Bee Gees, Rolling Stones, Abba, Credence Clearwater Revival and Queen.

Later in the year, they triumphed again with the show’s retro sequel, showcasing mega hits of the next generation of the world’s superstar bands, in Magnificent 7 #2. Now, in response to ongoing popular demand, the original production is set to return to the Sneddon, for a limited run.

If you’ve seen the show, chances are you’ll be back for more. If not, come prepared. One-of-a-kind MC McIloy, “Mr Popularity” in last year’s Durban Theatre Awards, puts his indelible stamp on proceedings - and gets it wrong till you roll about in the isles.

Mega-hit songs featured include a sequence Beach Boys feel-good surfing harmonies, with classics such as Barbara-Anne, Surfing USA and California Girls; a wealth of Beatles favourites such as Can’t Buy Me Love, She Loves You, Hey Jude and Obla Di Obla Da; Bee Gees gems such as How Deep Is Your Love, To Love Somebod or Too Much Heaven; disco hits such as Saturday Night Fever and Staying Alive; along with Abba’s Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia; and favourites such as die-hard rocker Mick Jagger’s Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Woman.

Add to these Credence Clearwater Revival crowd-pleasers such as Bad Moon Rising, Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Proud Mary, Down on the Corner, Midnight Special and Hey Tonight, and the sweeping harmonies of Freddie Mercury and Queen in songs such as Somebody to Love, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and I Want to Break Free, and the show’s extraordinary audience pull is easily explained.

Centrestage’s ace professional expertise ensures that the music is given a virtuoso make-over throughout the programme, bringing audiences to their feet night after night. And putting the business of laughs aside, Aaron McIlroy contributes his own musical cameos with aplomb, as he joins the band during this two hour long show.

Says Centrestage director, Gary Hemings: “The number of requests we’ve had on our website to bring the show back to Durban has been simply phenomenal. This has been a major factor behind our return this season.”

Centrestage’s starry roster of musos includes lead singer Rory McLaren, reprising his irresistible Freddy Mercury sequence after hitting the headlines with his Josh Groban renditions at last year’s Witness Hilton Arts Festival. Gino Fabri returns too, as a frenetically gyrating Mick Jagger, along with music director Donovan Hattingh as a smooth-voiced Brian May, and Andre Strydom, once more set to unleash his phenomenal falsetto on the show’s unbeatable Barry Gibbs material. Gravel-voiced Wayne Kallis steps back into the spotlight for his rousing Credence Clearwater Revival sing-along segment, while Mike McAully is back too, along with the show’s five-star backing vocals contingent, featuring seasoned performers Donna Africa, Lelanie Fourie and Candy G.

The Magnificent 7 runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from January 30 to February 10. Early booking at Computicket is strongly advised. See www.centrestage.co.za for more information.




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