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OFFBEAT BROADWAY (article first published : 2001-09-19)

Musical genius Anton Luitingh and writer Paul du Toit have put together a brilliant tribute – and take-off! - of musicals that have made their mark on Broadway. Performing with former M-Net presenter Suanne Braun, they present the remarkably successful Offbeat Broadway for a return season at the Royal Hotel’s Backstage.

I saw a shortened version of this show in Grahamstown with Lindy Abromowitz in place of Suanne Braun who was unavailable for that run. Having missed the show’s first Durban season, I was therefore looking forward to seeing it in its original format.

I wasn’t disappointed. Showcasing about 30 shows under the sub-title “All the musicals you could never afford to see in one night, sort of!”, the trio take a galloping ride through well-known and much-loved musical numbers in this highly entertaining and slick presentation.

Only those who know their subject well can fool around with it successfully and the show cannot be faulted for its clever arrangements, fine singing and large dollops of humour. The cast don’t take themselves seriously and invite the audience to enjoy the funny side of the songs they present, particularly those of Andrew Lloyd Webber! There are times when each performer can be singing phrases from three different songs at the same time, all skilfully melded into a comprehensive whole.

They do take time off to do real justice to numbers. Particularly notable was their a capella version of Summer Time and a tribute to the evocative and powerful musical Rent.

Claiming that there’s only “one plot in all the shows”, they proceed to explore the structure of musicals – ie there’s a hero, a heroine and a baddie, and that’s it! – with a rollercoaster ride through Sondheim, Bernstein, Gershwin, Kander and Ebb, Lerner and Loewe, Shönberg and Kretzmer. Musicals featured include Les Misérables, 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.

Looking back at my Grahamstown review, I note that I said: “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.” This still stands. In fact, I can attest to the fact that this is a show you can enjoy just as much - if not more - the second time around.

Make sure you call for several encores otherwise you’ll miss some highly hilarious moments!

Tickets R120 include a well-presented three-course meal. Starters are a Layered Vegetable Timbale, its delicate flavours offset by a spicy tomato puree, as well as an appetising Hot Leek and Potato Soup. Not a fan of fish, although my husband pronounced the Oven baked fresh Linefish very good, I chose the Corn-fed Breast of Chicken which I found succulent and enjoyable with its Spinach and Feta Cheese stuffing. For pudding there’s a delectable Cream Coffee Mousse.

Offbeat Broadway runs until October 13. To book phone (031) 333-6000.




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