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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

JAE WITH ZZZING! (article first published : 2008-06-30)

Jae is the epitome of "local girl makes good". Her love of music started when she watched a musical play at her primary school at the age of six. After the opening number of the show, the George Benson song The Greatest Love of All, Jae gives a short biography, which is all too short, of her love of music and the start of her career in The Motown Story, devised by Hamish Kyd, direction by the late Mervyn Goodman, in the Playhouse Cellar, as part of the original group Zzzing, which originated in Newlands.

The show currently running at Catalina Theatre is a nostalgic return to their roots with a new generation five member Zzzing comprising Mo' Anquitinem, Victor Dhudlu, V-Tec (Vincent) Majola, Kerzia de Vries and Loncey Smith - known as Mo, Victor, Vincent, Kerzia and Loncey. Unfortunately Loncey suffered a family tragedy during rehearsals and the Director, Hamish Kyd acts as a stand-in, although pretty much in the background. This does not detract from the excellent singing and presentation of the show.

The gorgeous local R&B songbird, Jae has blossomed into a dynamic performer and respected songwriter as all her songs are written by her. She has a commanding stage presence and had the audience riveted. Each member of Zzzing is a fine singer and they perform equally well in great harmony or as individuals. They were a huge hit with the audience who loved every minute of the show.

The premise of the show is that the five members of the group assemble and chatter among themselves. They hit upon the bright idea of forming a singing group to enter the musical theatre entertainment industry, and thus the show progresses, with the subsequent involvement of Jae with the group. Their informal chatter I thought needs more work, both on the script, I wonder if there was one, and in its delivery which was rather haphazard. The group’s forte is obviously in their singing and dancing, and not in their chatter, although it did raise several laughs. It clearly reached the audience.

Most of the songs are originals although the group does excellent cover versions, despite heated opposition from some members of the group to include the cover songs. Zzzing is equally at home with the originals or the cover versions, for example How Deep is Your Love by the Bee Gees, The Way We Were and My Girl. I also enjoyed Let Me Take Your Heart, Fragile Heart and Say Yes. The backing tracks are superb and the original choreography by Daisy Spencer was very appropriate to the show. Zzzing sang and moved extremely well together, even making the odd excursion into the audience, to its great delight.

The set (TVP Productions) is most attractive and adds to the production. However, some of the cast are in shadows at times and the lighting on the stage could have been better arranged. Good use is made of a spotlight and the situation could have been largely improved by the use of two spotlights. Leveen Kyd handled the follow spot well and the Costume Designer and Seamstress, Pauline Baker, deserves special mention.

Jae with Zzzing!, produced by Storyland & TheatreBiz and devised and directed by Hamish Kyd, will be performed at the Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf, from June 28 to July 6. Tickets R75 (R45 pensioners and students) with a "buy one get one free” on Tuesdays. Shows nightly at 20h00 on Tuesday to Saturday (Sunday at 14h00 and 18h00) with no shows on Monday. For more information or to book, contact the Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889 or via www.strictlytickets.com - Maurice Kort




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