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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

SOLID GOLD (article first published : 2000-09-5)

“You look like a penguin,” quips Arnie Field to his colleague Clinton Philander. He should talk. Ten minutes later he’s wearing the same snazzy black and white shirt and black trousers as, despite Clinton’s invitation to step into the dressing room and choose anything from a “cupboard full of costumes”, this outfit is all there is available.

This scenario forms part of Solid Gold which the two well-known and popular Durban entertainers are presenting at the Royal Hotel’s Backstage until September 23. Arnie and Clinton have been close friends for at least six years and have worked together for director Themi Venturas in numerous productions which include at least 100 corporate gigs and shows like West End Web, Cantina Tequila and Jamaican Jam. This is the first time they have appeared as a duo in their own show.

They’re a good foil for each other – Arnie being the more urbane, easy-going one with many years of experience under his belt while the impish and lovable Clinton offers an offbeat street-wise humour.

Solid Gold is a comfortable and relaxed programme of top hits which the two sing well. It should have a wide appeal for supper audiences. There’s a slight storyline to it – Arnie comes into the Backstage as a diner, expecting to meet a blind date and is coerced by Clinton (looking hilarious in an oversized jacket) into singing a couple of songs with him. Before long, he discovers he’s been conned and the “date” was simply a ruse to get him to the restaurant. Clinton involves the help of the Backstage maitre d’ and two waiters to help him in his deception, a nice touch.

Clinton opens the show with a neat take-off of Michael Jackson and from then on it’s virtually non-stop music. Together they shine in Just the Way you Were, Stand by Me and We’ve Only Just Begun but their best number of the evening is the Frank Sinatra/Luis Miguel hit Come Fly With Me which also reveals that Clinton is fast acquiring an impressive lower register.

Some of the numbers they sing were originally written as solos and have been reworked for their particular voices. Mostly the harmonies work but there are the occasional glitches such as in Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Arnie’s Tender Like I Do is too low for his register. And I do feel that they use up the best numbers too early in the show when these would have been better placed towards the end.

The Backstage is looking good for this production with gold drapes echoing the theme of the show. Tickets at R110 include a three-course meal in the Royal's fine style. The meal was excellent – I chose the Cream of Onion Soup (the alternate is Chicken Liver Parfait complemented by green peppercorns and bacon) and the tender Roast Lamb with fresh basil and Dijon Mustard (or baked kingklip fillet with a Wasbi Cream Sauce. For dessert there’s a delectable Strawberry Cheesecake.

Book through Royal Hotel restaurant reservations on (031) 304-0331.




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