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THRILLER (article first published : 2000-11-21)

The Langoustine Theatre by the Sea’s festive production is bound to appeal to all who love the thriller send-up genre. Ghosts and ghouls, monsters and phantoms, loony nerds, manic bikers and camp transvestites are just some of the characters to be encountered in this highly entertaining fun show.

There is much to please the eye. The young, lively and energetic cast is kitted out in sexy outfits a-plenty - both male and female! The props and most ambitious set yet seen at the Langoustine are thanks to Colin Law, Greg King and Jon Lang. Gargoyles, cobwebs and tattered curtains loom out of the smoky dark and Michael Broderick’s opening lighting and storm sequence is simply brilliant.

Thriller is a new musical comedy written by Duncan Royce who has also handled the musical direction and co-staged the production with his dancer wife Catherine (formerly Catherine Moore). The show mixes hit numbers from shows like The Rocky Horror Show, Little Shop of Horrors, Jekyll and Hyde and Chicago with songs such as Bat out of Hell, Masochism Tango and Ghostbusters.

Presented by Stampeding Buffalo Productions in association with East Coast Radio, Thriller is directed by Belinda Harward with a cast that includes Peter Gardner, Belinda Henwood and Duncan Royce with two new welcome faces on the Durban theatre scene: Jason Packett and Dalene Turner. The sixth member of the cast is Greg King who is hidden inside the puppet Audrey II (Tu), Little Shop’s monster plant that grows and grows.

In the main the compilation of songs works although there is a big difference in style between the sardonic camp sophistication of the darkly dramatic The Rocky Horror Show and the more naiive, frothy pastiche style of Little Shop of Horrors.

There are some superb points in the show such as Duncan Royce’s This is the Moment and his Phantom of the Opera with Dalene who hit a final top E to chill the spine. The Cell Block Tango was another high spot with Jason, Dalene and Belinda. Other good numbers were Belinda’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Dalene’s Somewhere That’s Green and Jason is in fine form in Dadoo and Please Grow for Me.

Holding all this together as the suave, deep-voice narrator is Peter Gardner. He brings the right cynical touch to the mock terror of the proceedings but in all our years of marriage I never thought to see him on stage in fishnet stockings and high platform shoes. It’s a sight to behold!

Philipp Maier is behind the sound design with the music creation by The Sound Factory and Sound Harmonic. Mostly the backing tracks are impressive and highly orchestrated but in some cases they tend to overshadow the performers. Duncan Royce’s innate power and vocal energy keeps him victorious but other members are not always so lucky – Belinda Henwood’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman left her virtually inaudible in her lower register and Jason Packett (in a black brocade cloak to die for!) gave his best to Sweet Transvestite despite an unsympathetic backing track.

Costumes (Colin Law, Gail King and Troubadour) are suitably camp and outrageous when required. I did find the priest-like outfits used for some of the Little Shop numbers a little illogical. Would have made more sense if they had ripped open to reveal more daring outfits.

The menu for Thriller is as much a winner as the show. Starters are Smoked Salmon, Chicken Livers Peri Peri or Calamari Salad. Main Course options include Beef Olive topped with Mushrooms or Chicken Satay. For vegetarians, there’s a Greek Salad starter on request and the third main course option is Aubergine a la Herbe de Provence. The two dessert choices are Strawberries and Ice Cream or Traditional Christmas Pudding with Custard. Each item on the menu was chosen by one or other of my six table companions and all pronounced the dishes good value, with a special commendation for the Chicken Livers Peri-Peri!

Tickets R100 (includes three-course meal) Wednesdays to Saturday evenings with dinner from 19h00 and the show at 20h30. Tickets R79 (includes two course meal) for Tuesdays “Ladies Night” (men welcome, too!) as well as on Sundays when dinner is 18h00 and the show at 19h30. There are also Saturday matinees.

Book at Computicket or from Yash or Lisa on (031) 563-7324 at the Langoustine or by e-mail: langos@iafrica.com Credit card bookings on (031) 304-2753 or save by booking directly at http://www.computicket.com




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