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

OFFBEAT BROADWAY (article first published : 2001-07-5)

A doctor (Lindy Abromowitz), a singer (Paul du Toit) and a pianist (Anton Luitingh) paid tribute to the musicals in Offbeat Broadway, a delightfully entertaining programme that played the Fringe of the Standard Bank National Arts Festival this week. It also appeared at the Royal Hotel’s Backstage earlier this year and is due back in Durban for a repeat season at the same venue in September (date to be confirmed).

Offbeat Broadway is devised by Paul du Toit and Anton Luitingh. When it played Durban, Suanne Braun took the female part. In her place, Mia Farrow look-alike Lindy Abromowitz is a sparkling blonde who more than matches the inventive musical talent of the two men. And she really is a qualified doctor!

Essentially, the show is a fast forward gallop through at least 32 well-known musicals that have made their mark on Broadway. To understand the clever arrangements and lyrics to the full, you need to know your musicals genre pretty well. But to the uninitiated, the show is just as appealing and enjoyable.

From the outset - an a capella rendition of Summer Time moving into a upbeat manic rendition of Jellicle Cats (Cats) - the solid expertise emanating from the stage assures you that you can relax and sit back, knowing that your favourite musical numbers are in good hands.

The trio explores what makes up the structure of a successful musical. First, you need a heroine. No problem – there’s Lindy with Somewhere That’s Green (A Little Shop of Horrors). Next requirement is a hero: enter Paul with a number or two from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Don’t think that all the while Anton simply supplies the accompaniment – he’s right in there with the other two, chipping in wacky comments and proving that he’s just as accomplished a singer as they are.

In the hour-long production, the three cover musicals such as Les Miserables, Sunset Boulevard, West Side Story, Rent, All That Jazz, The Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar, My Fair Lady, Chicago and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, just to name a few. Anton continually threatens to play the theme song from Phantom of the Opera, much to the others’ despair.

Paul and Anton’s arrangements are extremely inventive musically – one number can include phrases from at least six others without altering the style or overall meaning of the song. Three wigs, a flag, a beard and a couple of guns and there you have the Full Act I finale from Les Miserables or, as they quip Budget Broadway … or Les Mini Mis.

Unfortunately, Liz won’t be in the show when it comes to Durban as she has to continue her studies to become a surgeon! Mind you, Kevin Feather is desperately trying to persuade her that she can’t ignore her singing talent and is ready to book her at the first opportunity. It’s a difficult choice – she’ll make more money being a surgeon than a singer! When I suggested I might end up on her operating table one day she promised to sing me a lullaby as I go under the anaesthetic!” Whatever profession she chooses, she’ll make a good job of it!




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