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MILLENNIUM MELTDOWN - REVIEW (article first published : 1999-09-12)

The show features numbers by Janet Jackson, REM, Cher, Paula Cole, M-People, Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette and the Spice Girls as well as Duran-Duran, Wham!, Culture Club, Meatloaf and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Kate Bruce, Tim Wells and Percy Smith are well-known and established Durban performers who can always be relied on to do justice to a good song. Mercurial Tim gave first-class renderings of Boy George (hilarious!) and John Travolta numbers, Kate brought her dynamic energy to Who can it be now? and Percy’s No matter what was particularly memorable. I would have preferred more departures from the mainly up-tempo selection and Kate and Liesl’s controlled Uninvited was a welcome mood swing. The cast also performed a good arrangement of I would do anything for love.

However, it was Liesl Coppin who proved the focus point of the evening. Out of her hometown for some time touring in Richard Loring’s successful and long-running Girl Talk, she exploded onto the stage with a sexy, sultry long-legged power that sent most of the hot-blooded males in the audience into orbit! She impressed with her strong lower vocal range and, at the end of this highly-energetic show, still looked crisp and fresh and ready to do it all over again.

While the show is highly enjoyable, it doesn’t stay true to its original publicity. This described a “show within a show” with a distinct storyline where four actors are employed to perform in the Millennium Meltdown Show by William Fence of MacroHard Productions, multi-billionaire and unofficial controller of the human race, who we only see briefly and without clear explanation in a video clip. The show is controlled technologically by a-computer called Intel E Gent who narrates the video inserts until he is hit by a virus which bombs out the lights and sound.

I felt that more could have been done with what was advertised as a “battle of wills that ensues as the computer assumes more and more power until eventually the actors refuse to be controlled by technology and once again take control.”

The show has benefited from the generosity of various sponsors, among them Playtex, makers of Wonderbra. Costume designer Gideon has made full use of the garments to produce sexy tasselled tops which Kate and Liesl fill more than adequately! Apart from two rather uninspiring and ill-fitting shirt/tops worn by the men, Gideon’s costumes were suitably imaginative and glitzy.

The set, designed by Duncan Royce and constructed by Henry Paul and Louis Botha, was highly successful. All-hi-tech silver with back panels of mesh, it introduced a hitherto unseen and sophisticated dramatic dimension to the Langoustine stage with its swinging panels and fold-down video screen.

After Mercury Rising, I thought that the sound problems at the Langoustine had been ironed out but this show suffers from the over-loud backing tracks and fuzzy mix experienced in the past. If the vocalists’ voices don’t come over clean and clear, they tend to merge with the music and the lyrics are often indistinguishable. It also gives the audience a sense that they are removed slightly from the action and not `experiencing’ the actors’ performances directly. Then one might as well be watching television.

Tickets for Millennium Meltdown are R90 and include a three-course meal catered by the Langoustine-by-the- Sea. Starters are Smoked Chicken Salad, Calamari Salad or Seafood vol au Vent. I had the latter which was tasty but the pastry was softened too much by the Saffron Sabayon sauce. For main course, I opted for the Marinated Lamb Shank which is always delicious. Other options are Kingklip Medallions Meuniere and Panzerotti filled with Spinach and Butternut. For dessert, there’s Bread & Butter Pudding or Strawberry Parfait.

Book through the Langoustine on (031) 563 7324 and ask for Lisa Todd, or via Computicket. Save half of your booking costs and book directly on the Internet at http://www.computicket.com.


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