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LET’S PARTY! (article first published : 2006-11-4)

Theatre impresarios Julie de Jager and Colin Sumner have been on the South African entertainment scene for many years. Now back in Durban – much to Julie’s delight! – after a stint in Johannesburg, they have opened a new supper venue in Umhlanga and their first production is Let’s Party which is to run over the festive season into January.

Stars makes no pretensions at offering musical theatre in its dramatic sense or even music revues. What they do offer is a swift moving, attractively presented high-energy production with singers and dancers in a venue that stays open until late. The focus is on “party” – Big Time!

Heading the show are singers Jessy Boyle, Wayne Delport and Albert Bristow. Seeing them for the first time, blonde and bubbly Jessy looks set to follow in the footsteps her entertainer father, Graham Boyle, and the tall and amiable Albert Bristow engages in the comedy numbers with gusto. I have watched Wayne Delport’s progress with interest over the years since he appeared in Garth Anderson’s Tales From Brothers Grimm in 2000 and later through a series of Dockyard Theatre productions - almost stealing the show in Masters of Rock Volume 2!

Denya Maslen is a stalwart of the Durban dance scene and she was accompanied by Collette Akeroyd, Danielle Mann, Wayne Pantry and Sifiso Majola. It is a great coup for Stars that they have secured Sifiso’s services from Phenduka Dance Theatre for the season – this is a highly focused and watchable dancer who was the highlight of the show, especially in the Adage with Denya Maslen.

Julie de Jager’s costumes are impressive – a reminder of the productions down at the Wild Coast Sun’s Orchid Showbar - with skimpy, sequinned costumes (the men, as well!) and some full-on extravaganza numbers, complete with tall feathered headdresses.

The show is about 70 minutes long without interval and includes 32 musical numbers. In total, the cast has thirty costume changes and there are over 150 costumes involved. Do the maths and you’ll work out that there’s something new to look at or listen to every two and a half minutes or so.

Tickets R165 for the show and two-course meal (desserts extra at R25 each). There were three of us at our table, one of them a vegetarian, and the consensus was that it’s a good menu and the food was enjoyable. For starters there’s plain grilled Calamari, Chicken Liver Patè, Chicken & Beef Satays and Greek salad. Mains options are Lamb and Guinness Cottage Pie (bound to become a firm favourite), Chicken Cordon Bleu, Seafood Tagatelli and Vegetable Lasagne. There are other accompanying optional extras such as garlic French loaf, chips or Caesar salad.

Stars caters for a full evening out for the more sophisticated thirty something-plus audiences. After the show, die-hard party animals can stay on to enjoy entertainment from an MC/DJ with evergreen party music until late. There is a smoking lounge and the bar stays open after the show.

Let’s Party! runs until January 2007. Reservations are now open for the festive season. Stars Showbar and Supper Theatre is situated opposite The Cabana Beach Hotel alongside the Umhlanga Bowling Club at 19 Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga Rocks. More information or bookings on 031 561 5709. – Caroline Smart




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