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UNHINGED (article first published : 2002-01-25)

From the moment she first arrived in South Africa in 1974, Dianne Chandler won the hearts of stage and television audiences with her bubbly performance style and straightforward sense of humour. She made an impromptu stage appearance at the age of three, has performed all over the world with most of the top names of international showbiz and, in South Africa, soon became a household name. The production she co-wrote We’ll Meet Again was a long-running hit.

She was last seen in Durban at the Royal Hotel’s Backstage with her show Cellulite and Sequins. Back in town at the Langoustine Theatre by the Sea for her show Unhinged, she’s still in top form and audiences continue to respond to her engaging personality and undeniable singing talents.

Unhinged is simply a progression from Cellulite and Sequins, with new songs and more patter. She has kept some of her amusing stories such as the time she needed surgery at opposite ends of her body and, as the anaesthetic began to take hold, hoped that the surgeons didn’t get their tasks mixed up!

Why a title Unhinged? There’s certainly nothing unhinged about this very “together” lady who spends a fair amount of time jetting around the world visiting grandchildren – the source of some delicious anecdotes in the show. Her answer? “Half the time, I don’t know whether I’m here or there and am seriously beginning to wonder whether I’m becoming unhinged!”

The show includes numbers by Andrew Lloyd Webber; Frank Sinatra’s My Way and Boyzone’s No Matter What as well as songs such as Power of Love, Without Love, Little Things Mean a Lot, Love Changes Everything and You Make Me Feel So Young. There’s also a fun audience participation rendition of Any Dream Will Do.

It takes some doing these days for a single performer working on a stage the width of the Langoustine’s which is dressed simply with white drapes, the only props a stool, microphone stand and a table with water jug and glasses, to hold an audience for close on an hour and 20 minutes. Only one glamorous costume. No tricks like audiovisuals or fancy lighting effects. Just plain good entertainment.

Broadminded and frankly spoken, Yorkshire-raised Dianne Chandler has the rare ability to laugh at herself - at the fact that she’s been married five times and at the biological changes in her body as she gets older, the latter winning the sympathy of most of the women in the audience. She looks stunning and she can still wow them all with Jerusalem. Nothing unhinged there!

The only problem I had with the show were the backing tracks that featured mainly piano which were often over-riding, too loud and not complementary to the singer.

Still under construction, her website at http://www.dichandler.com is well-presented and attractively designed, using the imagery of spotlights for the linking buttons. Her new CD is not featured yet but there is a wealth of information about her successful career and involvement in theatre, television and cabaret.

Unhinged runs at the Langoustine from Tuesdays to Sundays until February 10, with dinner served from 19h00. Tickets R120 include a three-course meal. Starters are fresh mussels in Mediterranean Seafood Sauce which I didn’t find very successful – the mussels appearing bland while the sauce was fairly spicy. More to my liking was the Thai Spicy Beef Salad. Main Course options were Lamb Curry – not too strongly seasoned and the meat was tender; Fresh Linefish of the day topped with Shrimp sauce, and Thai Vegetable Stir Fry. Dessert is Fresh Fruit Salad with Ice Cream or Crème Brulee.

There are special low-price rates on Tuesdays and Sundays at a ticket price of R99 which includes a two-course meal. On Sundays, dinner is served from 18h30. Book at Langoustine on 031 563-7324 or through Computicket. Credit cards on 031 304-2753.




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