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COME FLY WITH ME (article first published : 2008-05-28)

The Gee Jays have a large following for their own brand of shows, somewhat below-the-belt jokes and easy-going presentation. Friends for over 21 years, Gary McKenzie, John Didlick and Grant Bell have honed their musical harmonies and individual characteristics so you know you’re in for a lot of fun and genial tomfoolery when you see their names on a billboard.

In their latest show, Come Fly with Me at the Heritage Theatre, they’ve brought in a new cast member and - it seems, from their “welcoming him on board” moment in the show - a new official Gee Jay. This personage is no less than Jonothan Didlick, John’s son, who has been seen in a number of Sue Clarence’s adult pantomimes over the years.

Jonothan has grown up with the Gee Jays and their work has formed part of his family life so he can more than hold his own against these three ebullient personalities. While he doesn’t hold back in his musical numbers, he has a nice quality of “stillness” which injects a touch of class into the amiable mayhem.

The scenario is this: three guys of mature age (and, in certain cases, dimensions!) set out to sing the music they love – the old standards by the legends of swing such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennet and Nat King Cole – with John Didlick playing his usual dof character and getting everything mixed up! Enter Jonothan, in casual gear and takkies as opposed to their formal suits and highly polished shows, who represents the style of today. He prefers the interpretations of these standards by the Robbie Williams, Michael Bublč and Josh Grobans of this world.

The older two – John and Gary (of aforesaid dimensions) – won’t have any of this new nonsense and it is Grant who befriends the youngster and shows that he can happily sit astride the old and new versions of the songs. Eventually the older two come round and they end the show with a rousing <>Route 66 and Rock DJ

John and Jonothan work well together – especially in the poignant How Can You Mend a Broken Heart - and they could easily put together a show of their own. Gary and John’s Well, did you Evah from High Society was one of my favourites as was Grant’s That’s Life. However, all round it’s a good evening’s entertainment with some of the most enduring songs ever written – even if the backing tracks were too loud.

Expect to hear That’s Life, Fly Me To the Moon, A Foggy Day, Beyond the Sea, Moondance, The Summer Wind, The Lady is a Tramp, Come Fly With Me and a whole heap more!

The set is attractive and elegant with surrounding silver drapes. Focal points are photographs of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin – and the “new” guys, Robbie Williams and Michael Bublč. A bar offers a convivial area for some of the jokes, not to mention the starting point for the Dean Martin number!

Tickets R185 from Wednesday to Saturdays for a good value two-course meal and show (R160 Tuesday nights and Sunday lunch). The current menu offers soup of the day; oven baked Button Mushrooms with cream (my choice – and a good one) and Texas Crutch Cadillac Cut which is a deboned spare rib salad. Main course options are roasted Butternut and Linguini (a very generous helping), Galinha a Peri-Peri (roasted baby chicken); Oven Baked Line Fish and Roast Loin of Beef. The latter was my choice and, once again, I was not disappointed. Not included in the ticket price is a dessert menu as an optional extra.

Come Fly with Me runs at the Heritage Theatre at the Heritage Market in Hillcrest from May 20 to June 29. Bookings on 031 765 4197 or online at www.heritagetheatre.co.za - Caroline Smart




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