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DRINKS ON ME (article first published : 2001-06-15)

This is going to be a short review.

In Drinks on Me at Langoustine Theatre by the Sea, Amra-Faye Wright is brilliant, adorable, stunning. What more can I say?

On second thoughts, she deserves more than just a sentence – although the above just about sums it up.

Very Very Big Productions and the Langoustine have a winner in Drinks on Me. Directed by Mark Hawkins and with choreography by David Gouldie who also appears in the show, it features excellent lighting by Hugh Turner and an elegant sophisticated set by Greg King.

This is to be Amra-Faye’s last production in South Africa as she has just landed the role of Velma Kelly - the role Bebe Neuwirth (Frasier’s wife in Cheers) made famous on Broadway and Uta Lemper likewise on the West End - in a production of Chicago. Directed by Walter Bobbie and designed by John Lee Beatty, it is currently running in London at the Adelphi Theatre. It is set to tour the UK with a new cast and Amra will be right up front as one of the two leads.

After touring Manchester, Scotland and Ireland the show may return to the London stage. And if she performs the show-stopper All That Jazz the way she did on the Langoustine stage last night, we won’t be seeing her back here for a while because either Cameron Mackintosh or Andrew Lloyd Webber will snatch her up in minutes.

Tall, willowy with a superb figure, Amra-Faye is an exceptional performer. A world class professional down to her elegant fingertips and in total command of her voice, body and incredibly long high-kicking legs. She can be kittenish and naughty (There’s Nothing Dirty Going On) before becoming dignified and statuesque (Diamonds are Forever) and then turning into a raunchy, sensual sex bomb (Mein Herr).

She blazed her way through They Call Me Naughty Lola, Nobody Does it Like Me, Rough and Ready Man, Hey! Big Spender and the title song Drinks on Me and underwent lightning costume changes in Cell Block Tango.

The wide, generous and unaffected smile you see on stage reflects the perfectly normal and charming person she is off-stage. She makes her own costumes and I haven’t met anyone yet who has worked with her who has a harsh word against her – a real showbiz oddity!

David Gouldie has created a good support team with dancers Angela Lardant from Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company, Denya Maslen (well-known from Themi Venturas Productions) and Anneline Potgieter. What a joy to see some “real” choreography in a supper theatre production and not something that looks like aerobics on acid.

Tickets R110pp includes a three-course dinner for shows Wednesday to Saturday. Choices for starters are Smoked Salmon or Homemade Butternut Soup and main course options Roast Sirloin in a French Mustard Crust or Savoury Pancake filled with julienne vegetables. I had the salmon and the sirloin which were both enjoyable and a friend reported the pancake equally agreeable. Dessert is Homemade Cheesecake but this wasn’t light enough my liking. Tuesday and Sunday performances R89pp includes a two course dinner.

Drinks on Me runs until July 22. Bookings on (031) 563-7324 or Computicket. - Caroline Smart




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