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LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYS (article first published : 2008-09-17; last edited : 2008-09-17)

Just opened at Durban’s most scenic supper theatre venue - the Upper Deck on the Phantom Ship at Ushaka Marine World - is an engaging tribute to the boy bands by four very personable young men: namely Jonothan Didlick; Lyle Buxton; Cavin Sewell, and Bradley Marshall.

Growing up with the popular Gee Jays (dad is John Didlick) and with his extensive experience in their shows, adult pantomimes and, more recently, the Barnyard circuit, Jonothan Didlick is by now a seasoned performer. He holds the audience’s attention with ease, his tall and imposing figure commanding the stage, but he remains sensitive to the fact that this is an ensemble piece.

He’s certainly surrounded by some lively talent. Bradley Marshall is enthusiastic and has a strong falsetto, he just needs to control his facial expressions. Tall and slim, Cavin Sewell handles the lower range well, although I was sorely tempted to tape his fingers to the microphone to stop him playing it like a flute. Lyle Buxton gives a laid-back and sincere performance but we need his personality to “reach across the footlights”, as the old theatre saying goes.

The singers displayed a good vocal range and handled some interesting and complicated harmonies, particularly an impressive closing sequence to the Beatles medley. There are times when I had problems with songs where the lyrics clearly indicated a poignant style but what we got was something far too robust – in this case, Blue’s Sorry seems to be the Hardest Word. The words dictate the presentation – “sorry” isn’t a confrontational word but one of introspection.

Designer Kevin Ellis has come up with a good wardrobe ranging from the diamond-patterned pullovers and waistcoats in the first half to sequins and elegant evening suits later in the show - although some of the cast need to be taught how to tie bowties or place them properly! Since it has been painted white, the raised stage area has made a big difference and gives the production an elegant look. I still think the inclusion of plants or other props to break the sides of the stage would add to the attraction. There is also a bad “dark spot” in terms of lighting downstage left, often leaving whoever’s in that position in the dark.

Producer Wayne Scott and director Charon Williams-Ros have an undeniable hit with this one. It covers a wide range of music to suit all ages – delving back into the past to the Beach Boys, Tremeloes and The Monkeys before moving on to the Beatles then the Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Il Divo, Teatro, and the South African group Eden.

Alain Rijnvis’s choreography is tight and sufficiently uncomplicated for performers with various levels of dance skills. It’s also suitably cheesy when appropriate, like the sequence on The Osmonds! Musical director and pianist Shem Mahabeer leads the tight uShaka Marine World Band combo with bassist Logan Byrne, saxophonist Jonathan Judge, Dylan Kenny on percussion and Dane Francis on electric and acoustic guitar.

It’s a breezy, fast-moving and enjoyable show from four good-looking guys, each highly talented in their own right but interacting with each other to produce an infectious rapport – all resulting in a united and companionable foursome. Expect to hear Step by Step (New Kids on the Block), a good a capella How Deep is your Love (BeeGees); When You say Nothing at All (Ronan Keating); No Matter What (Boyzone); The Way You Look Tonight (Westlife), Mamma (Il Divo) and Back for Good (Take That) as well as a highly amusing Is Jy Bang? (Eden).

NB: The unprecedented high rate of ticket sales for the show has been such that “Let’s Hear It For The Boys” will return to the Upper Deck from November 15 to run over the festive season until end December.

Let’s Hear It For The Boys runs until October 5 from Thursdays to Saturdays at 19h00 for 20h00 (Sunday afternoons at 13h00 for 14h00). Tickets R150 include a good buffet dinner – but be advised, eat your starters and mains before the show because the food is not as hot as it should be by the time interval comes along. Book at Computicket or phone 031 328 8068. – Caroline Smart




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