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GOOD VIBRATIONS – THE NEW GENERATION (article first published : 2000-09-1)

On September 25, 1990, director Themi Venturas opened his show Good Vibrations in the Playhouse Cellar. He appeared with Natasha Sutherland (now in Egoli), Aaron McIlroy, Arnie Field and Hughie Louw – now respected and successful performers in their own right.

When the season at the Cellar closed, the show immediately moved to what was then a new supper theatre venue (now sadly defunct) at O’Hagan’s in Durban North. So, while admittedly not at the same venue, the cast performed 32 consecutive performances - which has to be something of a record for Durban.

Ten years on, Good Vibrations has toured most major cities in South Africa (except Johannesburg!) and gone further afield to Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia and Botswana and more than 30 young performers have appeared in the show.

Currently running at the Langoustine Theatre by the Sea in Durban North is Good Vibrations … the Next Generation which features a brand new cast of up-and-coming performers. The show is a musical journey seen through the eyes of Suzy, a young girl on the brink of womanhood. It progresses through the pages of her diary, taking in momentous events such as the moon landing, JF Kennedy’s death, the flower power era and Vietnam. Woven into these happenings are music from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Platters, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, The Bee Gees and many more.

Feather light, entrancing and cute-as-pie Kasia Stempkowski plays the 13th (lucky number for her, obviously!) Suzy in the show’s history. However, Good Vibrations is all about music and while Kasia’s dramatic abilities are undisputed, she needs to do a fair amount of work on her singing.

Proving that they are worthy successors to the Good Vibrations legend are Greig Pilkington, Shanthan, Neels Boshoff and Donovan Philander (the brother of popular performer Clinton Philander, currently appearing at the Royal Hotel’s Backstage). Star of the show for me is Shanthan, a highly talented young singer who is a joy to watch. The others acquit themselves well – powerful Neels with his solid strength, mercurial Greig with his good flair for comedy and Donovan with his consistently relaxed performance.

So, if you want to see five theatrical personalities of tomorrow, head for the Langoustine!

For the first time, a show at the Langoustine theatre has a live band. Providing upbeat and zippy backing, it features either Greg Leisegang or Dawn Thomson on keyboards, Colin Peddie or Barry Thomson on guitar, Mali Sewell on drums and Simon Pontin on bass.

Not many niggles. One of them is the opening. This worked in 1990 when the show followed hot on the heels of its predecessor Shoo Bop Shoo Bop and loyal followers picked up that the ending of the one production starting the next. Ten years on – and with a new generation of audiences joining the fans – this needs more of an explanation. Another problem is a sequence involving a puppet Pink Panther dancing to the time-honoured Henry Mancini theme. It should have been placed higher - I doubt whether anyone further back than the front tables were able to appreciate it. Also, I didn’t like the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club band sequence the first time round and I still don’t. It just seems untidy and inappropriate.

All-in-all Themi Venturas’s Good Vibrations is a delightful evening of fun, nostalgia and good music from a vibrant, energetic cast. The menu is the same as that presented for Swooners and Crooners (see review on these pages). The show runs until October 1. Tickets at R110 include the three-course dinner. Shows on Tuesdays and Sundays are R69 (inc. two-course dinner) Booking essential via Lisa or Yash on 563-7324 or e-mail: langos@iafrica.com




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