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IT’S NOT WHERE I START … (article first published : 2002-05-9)

Amra Faye was a world class performer way before she landed the role of Velma in a UK touring production of the musical Chicago but this current experience – she’s here on a two week break from the show – has certainly given her a highly polished and dramatic edge. Durban should feel extremely privileged that she has chosen to work here - all kudos to Mark Hawkins and Very Very Big Productions.

The title It’s Not Where I Start … comes from a song with the line It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish and the show sees Amra linking the numbers with amusing chat about her life and experiences both on and off the stage.

What better support could she have than the golden-fingered Evan Roberts on piano? He accompanies her with ease and familiarity, occasionally singing himself.

Another privilege for Durban audiences is the delightful and irrepressible Andy Cuss who is a great trumpet player and his duo with Evan of Sweet Gergia Brown was all too short. Also appearing in Chicago, he has accompanied Amra to Durban for the show. Together they do a fun rendition of Brush Up Your Shakespeare, working in tandem so well that it would be good to see another show that involves more of this kind of material.

Amra always looks stunning with legs that go on forever but, while impeccably elegant, the black velvet gown she wears in the second half tends to disappear against the dark wood of the piano and the black curtains behind her. I would also like to see her in a different costume for the final number.

With her professionalism, charm, vocal power, impeccable timing and the ability to sail through a major technical hitch with aplomb, Amra is a very natural and generous performer. Her previous Durban shows include Rouge Pulp and Drinks on Me and both were sell-outs as this one is bound to be. Highly versatile and sensibly focused, she can be raunchy, sexy, cute, strident and poignant. Offstage, she’s a fun person with none of the attitude normally found in performers of her calibre.

Some of her best numbers are Maybe This Time, Living Alone and I Like It, Silence is Gold/Quiet Love, Bewitched and the delightful Cancun.

Michael Broderick’s lighting is stunning - dramatic, cool and sophisticated.

Another triumph was the conversion of the hall into an acceptable performance venue. With black drapes lining the walls to give a more intimate atmosphere and a good sized stage area built over the stairs section, a grand piano and footlights – St Mary’s Church Hall was dressed for action. The beautiful high ceilings tend to let the sound carry upward giving the show a more dramatic quality and less of the intimate cabaret feel. Would someone one day please make a smoke machine that doesn’t upstage everyone with the noise it makes when it is activated?

Performances take place from May 8 to 18 at 19h30 for 20h00 at St. Mary's Church Hall, Windermere Road (next to Bean Bag Bohemia).

Tickets are R65 - a friend of mine said he’d pay that just to see her stand there! A cash bar is available throughout the show. Patrons can book a table at BBB for dinner before or after the show on 031 309-6019. Or order a mezze platter for R35 per head with your tickets and have it served at your table.

More information, bookings and block-booking discounts from Peter or Mark on 031 209-0142.




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