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BAD MOON RISING (article first published : 2007-10-12)

The ever-popular GeeJays - Gary McKenzie, Grant Bell and John Didlick, if you’ve been on another planet for the last 21 years! - have audiences responding in delight from the very start of their new show Bad Moon Rising.

Celebrating the music of the 70s supergroup, Credence Clearwater Revival, it features their usual genial tomfoolery, wisecracks, fun and ridiculous mayhem all wrapped up in a highly entertaining show. It’s the perfect escape from any worries and woes – and certainly cheaper and healthier than a course of anti-depressants!

The Heritage Theatre stage has been transformed into a barn type atmosphere with bales of hay, hessian panels, images of the Stars and Stripes, a tin bathtub and a haphazard framework of timbers. Stetsons are the order of the day and Megan McKenzie’s costumes are attractive and appropriate.

The guys get decked out in a series of outfits – from Huckleberry Finn dungarees to leather coats, dark glasses and long white beards or elegant black shirts adorned with dramatic cowhide panels. As the main comedy character, John gets to wear some outrageous numbers like a safari suit (do they STILL exist?) and a blue cap with bulls’ horns or a flamboyant skin-tight outfit à la Elvis, in a wig that has sideburns wide enough to paint a house!

Comfortable in the Heritage Theatre, their acknowledged home, they link up again with music director Dawn Selby and ace guitarist Barry Thomson ably supported by Mally Sewell on drums and Mark Freel on bass. Expect good renditions of Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Heard It Through the Grapevine, Jambalaya, Seven Bridges Road, Teach Your Children and Looking Out My Back Door, Down on the Corner, Bad Moon Rising and Cotton Fields, to name a few.

One of the highlights is Duelling Banjos where, with a little help from Grant and Gary, Barry Thomson performs both musicians’ roles. Another was Dawn Selby’s Crazy, a nice interlude of bluesy tenderness in an otherwise up tempo programme.

There’s a certain informative element about the show – useful for people like me whose knowledge of Credence Clearwater Revival is a bit sketchy. For instance, we learn that Suzi Q is also the name of a line dance movement, which Grant proceeds to demonstrate with much aplomb. I might add that Gary executed a pretty neat entrechat during one of his numbers. Of course, some of this information goes a bit awry as John’s character always gets things mixed up. He’s also determined to sing Haasie and the eventual development of this gag was an unpredictable delight.

If you enjoy the Gee Jays, you’ll know what to expect – after all, if you have a winning formula, why change it? If you aren’t familiar with their work, then why not give the show a whirl? You may just be converted!

As always, The Heritage offers a good menu selection. For starters, there’s Soup of the Day, Chicken Caesar Salad (appreciated by my partners) and Roasted Asparagus Salad which I chose and found it an enjoyable new addition to the menu. Main course choices are Enchilada, Linguini Marinara, Roasted Butternut and Penne Pasta, and the good old Heritage special, Braised Lamb Shank – the last being of a particularly impressive size tonight but right up to mouthwatering standard, as always. I chose the Linguini Marinara which gave just enough of a tang to the seafood without drowning its delicate taste.

Bad Moon Rising runs at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest from October 9 to November 11. Tickets R175 pp Wednesday to Saturday (R150 Tuesday evenings and Sunday lunchtime) include the two-course meal with dessert an optional extra. Bookings on 031 765 4197. – Caroline Smart




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