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THOSE WERE THE DAYS (article first published : 2001-02-14)

Actor/director Patrick Collyer has always had a yen for the music of the 60’s and 70’s, which incorporated the “hippie” era. Enter friend and well-known SAfm broadcaster Monica Fairall, who was a local folk singer of note all of 30 years ago. They pooled ideas for songs and script and came up with the bones of a nostalgic show paying tribute to singer/songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The next step was to involve like-minded musicians and what better choice than folk music and blues stalwarts Fiona Tozer, William Wallace and Dave Atkinson? For some youthful appeal and a talent that is going places, singer and actress Angela Dodds was chosen as the sixth cast member.

Five performers (two theatrical and three non-theatrical) and a broadcaster who has been more involved with speech than song for 30 years makes for a fairly volatile mix. But their combined love and commitment to the music and the spirit of its origins has resulted in a strong and versatile musical group.

Those Were the Days is the first Kwasuka Theatre Company production of the year and here I must state a vested interest in that I am a trustee of the theatre and therefore not entirely unbiased regarding its activities. Also, I popped into final rehearsals at Patrick Collyer’s request to give the show a quick look-over in case of any glaring mistakes or omissions. There were none. Any comments I had to make were minor ones in terms of staging and occasional light and sound imbalances which probably would have come right, in any case. Vested interest and involvement aside, I have no hesitation in saying that it’s a highly enjoyable show.

While Those Were the Days should be viewed as an ensemble piece, each performer offers his or her own character qualities. Notable numbers were Monica Fairall’s Jet Plane (John Denver), Dave Atkinson’s Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan), Angela Dodd’s poignant Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell) which she also signed; Patrick Collyer’s Suzanne (Leonard Cohen) and Will Wallace’s Father and Son (Cat Stevens/Yusef Islam).

As narrators, Monica’s flair for gentle comedy and Patrick’s staccato delivery provide a good balance. The programme is well put together and incorporates different moods, ranging from Peter, Paul and Mary’s whacky Big Blue Frog to Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer and Joni Mitchell”s Woodstock, a definite highlight of the evening sung with spine-chilling clarity and soaring ease by Fiona.

Thanks to generous sponsorship from technical support organisations, Those Were the Days is the most sophisticated production in terms of sound and lighting yet seen at Kwasuka Theatre. Brandon Bunyan’s lighting design is dramatic and vibrant with the use of a haze machine creating further atmosphere.

If this is your kind of music, you’ll enjoy the show - it stays true to the spirit of the unique personalities who created it. Originally due to close on Saturday (February 17), the show has been extended to February 24 because the response has been so good. Tickets R25. Book through Computicket or phone the theatre on (031) 309-2236.




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