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UNDER THE COVERS (article first published : 2002-03-3)

The GeeJays – Grant Bell, John Didlick and Gary McKenzie - have worked together for so many years and created such a tightly-knit unit both vocally and in terms of presentation, that any new voices introduced to the group will take a while to settle in.

This is the case with the Gee Jays’ latest presentation at Lango’s Theatre (the renamed Langoustine Theatre by the Sea). Under the Covers features well-known entertainer Arnie Field and a welcome return back to the professional stage of Julie Solomon, a former member of the Loft Theatre Company and last seen in the musical Scrooge.

Julie Solomon is looking great, having shed a fair amount of weight, and her bubbly bouncing personality in the role of a ditzy kugel complete with her natural cascade of riotous curls injects a strong dramatic content to the show. Arnie Field, at his best with soul numbers, allows the Gee Jays to explore four-part harmony and incorporate a new repertoire of songs.

Under the Covers deals with well-known cover songs and tumbles along in the genial and mildly chaotic style characteristic of the Gee Jays. Even taking into account the fact that Gary McKenzie was battling flu, the opening a capella number of Yesterday which came dramatically out of a blue mist lighting effect didn’t present the impact it could have done.

In the main, however, the songs are well chosen and the introduction of a fourth male voice adds an interesting dimension to the Gee Jays. I’m glad to hear that the gravelly scratch that had become prevalent in Grant Bell’s voice is now gone and his Love Me Tender sequence was sustained and flawless.

The lighting is underplayed and the set under-dressed except when the curtained alcove area is opened to reveal Julie’s kitsch boudoir complete with stuffed toys and red satin sheets and head board. Costumes are kept fairly simple and conservative but it’s a wide stage area to fill. Under the Covers is musically sound and enjoyable, apart from the occasional overbearing backing track, but visually it could do with a bit of embellishment.

Along with the change of name, Lango’s Theatre introduces several new aspects to the supper theatre format. There is a special R65 show-only package. If patrons do wish to make dinner part of the evening, then they may order from the main set menu or from any of the other two restaurants at Lango’s.

I chose to order delicious Norwegian Salmon California Rolls from the Lan Thai and grilled calamari from the main restaurant. Peter (my husband) chose Smoked Salmon, also from the main restaurant, and the Fresh Linefish of the Day with Sweet & Sour Sauce. The Green Tea & Coconut Ice Cream on the set menu was tangy and refreshing.

The set menu also includes as starters: Chicken Livers Peri Peri, Mediterranean Seafood Soup, Traditional Greek Salad and Steakfingers Peri Peri. On the main course are Pasta Arrabiata (vegetarian), Lasagne and two curries – Massaman Lamb Curry and Chicken Curry – as well as the Line Fish option.

Under the Covers runs until April 14 and is bound to be a popular choice for those who want an entertaining, humorous and undemanding evening out. Book at Computicket or from Lango’s on 031 563-7324.




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