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MILESTONES TO THE MILLENNIUM (article first published : 2001-11-4)

Mike McCullagh is well-known for his playing and song-writing abilities in McCully Workshop, a top South African group of the 70’s. The Playhouse Cellar is currently hosting his new show Milestones to the Millennium.

For those who like to get into the swing of things, dance and sing-along, Milestones to the Millennium is party time from the word go when Clinton Philander gets the crowd moving in the very first number. Good going, Clinton! But then, the man is irresistible. We’ve not seen this popular entertainer on the Durban stage for a while. He’s been trying his hand at solo work and this fairly lonesome existence has given him an added maturity and strength. He’s no longer just a cute bundle but a riveting and sustained performer, as seen in numbers such as I Feel Good. (For performances when he is not available, his place will be taken by Shanthan).

Mike McCullagh with trademark headband drives things from the back of the stage on the drum kit. Take time to watch him, he’s a star performer in his own right and gets a chance to perform his well-known composition Buccaneer. He has chosen his performers with care and the show races along through the decades from Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles in the 70’s up to Ricky Martin of the 90’s. With pumping smoke and good lighting effects, it’s a full-on rock concert scaled down to the confines of the Cellar.

Laid-back with a mop of dark hair, Jason Guile presents a Jimi Hendrix interpretation that is worth a visit to the show alone. If he plays like this at the age of 19 there’s a great future ahead of him!

At the keyboard and centre stage, James Dobson moves chameleon-like through Elton John, Mick Jagger and Gary Glitter songs and diminutive Bridgette Mitchel belts out numbers like Simply the Best and Raining Men – where she hides all that power in that frail tiny frame, heaven knows! Obviously inheriting his father’s musical talent, bass guitarist James McCullagh gives a good rendering of Juliet.

Milestones to the Millennium, which is due to run through the festive season, has quite a long running time so audiences get their money’s worth. Tickets R120 Tuesday to Saturday at 19h00 include a three course meal and the Cellar now enjoys the services of executive chef Marc Waterworth whose experience includes Durban Country Club, Bean Bag Bohemia and Cafe 99 as well as at Granny Mouse's Country House and the Trioz restaurant.

For starters, there’s a pleasantly flavoured Carrot, Butternut & Apple Soup or Dolmades nicely served with marinated feta but a daunting helping of olives. I like olives but 15 or so were too much! On the main menu the choice includes Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast but we both chose the excellent Peppered Medallions of Beef Fillet. A rare pleasure in venues like this, to have the chance of having steak cooked exactly the way you prefer it. For dessert, there’s a totally decadent 3-Layer Chocolate Bavarois or the refreshing Fruit & Nut Phyllo Pastry Mille-feuille. Vegetarian dishes are always available on request and all foods are Halaal.

Tickets for Sunday shows are R90 (two-course meal) from 18h00 and for the Friday early cocktail performance (no meal) at 17h15, tickets are R40. Book at TicketWeb.




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