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

ALONE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT (article first published : 2001-04-4)

Never before has the Playhouse Cellar hosted such a highly sophisticated technical production as its current show Alone on a Saturday Night. Michael Broderick, as usual, has produced a stunning lighting design which keeps Cellar lighting technician Kurt Fredericís hands flying across the lighting board. Another major part of the show is the audiovisual content, with black and white filmed sequences skilfully worked into the action. Costumes designed by Gareth Kenna are attractive and plentiful and the set makes clever use of the limiting stage area.

From a visual point of view Alone on a Saturday Night is a winner from beginning to end.

The show features no less than 18 original songs written and composed by Durban-based Marc Wells. In the main, they are easy on the ear - toe-tapping memorable rock or country and western numbers such as Marmalade Cream and the amusing Albertís Prayer (Einsteinís lament) or the Boogie Bob. Changes of mood come with more reflective songs like Faces, All Because and the title song. The multi-media event introduces the debut CD from the DuMarc Corporation, an enjoyable compilation of 13 songs under the same title.

Donít expect your usual supper theatre fare from this show. You wonít get it. For a start, it begins with a suicide and ends with a graveyard! Itís the fictional biography of a supposedly successful man whose life flashes before his eyes in the moment before he dies.

Thereís no glitz for the sake of glitz, banal choreography, or even any dialogue. Despite all the hi-technology, itís a fairly simple concept Ė that of showcasing Marc Wells, the man and his music. Most of the time he cracks it, sometimes he comes over stiff and forced, but his sincerity and commitment is evident. He also enters into a dance routine towards the end of the show which proves he hasnít got two left feet! Tall and good-looking, he cuts a genial and personable figure but definitely needs to loosen up.

Providing his backing cast are the under-used strong singing/acting talents of Belinda Henwood and Greig Pilkington. Also appearing are Candice Crowther, Stacey Taylor and actor John van de Ruit, who makes his debut on the supper theatre circuit. On the night I went, the richly arranged backing tracks by Dawn Selby tended to overshadow the lyrics but after interval things improved and a better balance was achieved.

The main accolade goes to Markís songs, an impressive achievement from a musician who has a good feel for what the general public enjoys.

The Cellarís three-course meal includes a choice of starters: Spicy Beef Salad or a Flaky Puff Pastry Pillow of spinach and feta cheese. I chose the latter which was delicious. Main course is either Fish Supreme or Medallions of Pork Fillet in a creamy wine sauce. Not wild about fish or pork unless itís sausages or ham, I opted for the vegetarian dish which could have offered a better-matched selection of items.

Book through TicketWeb or Dial-a-Seat on (031) 369-9555. Block bookings and sold performances from Pat Loureiro on (031) 369-9505.




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