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

THE CHARACTERS (article first published : 2001-12-6)

Veteran comedians Cy Saks and Derek Denniss, now performing at the Royal Hotel’s Backstage, were last seen in Durban at the same venue with Andy Stewart in the comedy show Grumpy Old Men.

Someone posed the question to me the other day as to when did a performer become a veteran? I offered the answer that perhaps it had something to do with a person’s track record; that their CV was too long to mention; that they’d become a household name, or that - plainly and simply - they had been around on the entertainment circuit for a very long time.

Notching up 76 years of entertainment between them, Cy Saks and Derek Denniss therefore rightly qualify for the term “veteran”.

Cy Saks became a professional performer soon after he left Sea Point High School in Cape Town. “Sea Point High School?” interjects Derek Denniss at my enquiry. “I went there as well!” And so a stronger link was forged between these two comedy entertainers who have chosen to work together in Durban over the festive season.

Cy Saks will be remembered by regular Durban audiences because he’s been performing here for many years – in fact, he had his own nightspot called Cy’s Place in Durban North. Now known as The Langoustine by the Sea, it is recognised as one of the major supper theatre venues in Durban.

The deadpan Cy and the genial Derek were last seen at the Royal’s Backstage in Grumpy Old Men with Tony Stewart and Brian Alexander in August last year. If you know these performers well, they present their tried and tested routine so it’s like slipping on a pair of comfortable slippers because you know what’s coming next.

For those unfamiliar with their material, it’s a good chance to watch two old hands working a room and offering an easygoing evening’s programme of light-hearted nonsense, a couple of songs, a bit of magic and a variety of funny hats.

Personally, I don’t think Backstage is the right venue for them – they need something a little more earthy and casual – but last night’s audience was responsive and clearly enjoyed themselves.

Supper theatre should offer a tight well-presented package of show and meal but the two don’t always work in cohesion and this is why many new supper theatre venues have been short-lived in Durban. The Royal can always be relied on to get it right and for this show, chef Shaun Munro has produced a winner of a menu.

For starters, there’s a beautifully-presented roast mixed Vegetable Stack or Chicken and Asparagus Ragout in a Paprika Crepe – both delicious. Main course options are succulent Lamb Shanks or a lightly flavoured Seafood Casoulet in a pastry vol-au-vent. Dessert is a wicked mix of Chocolate Mousse, Strawberry Coulis and Toasted Almonds.

Tickets R120 pp include the meal. Book at Royal Hotel restaurant reservations on (031) 310-3333.




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