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FEELIN’ GROOVY (article first published : 2002-08-10)

More of a supper party than supper theatre but audiences respond ecstatically. (Review by Caroline Smart)

More of a supper party with a non-stop programme of hit songs from the 60’s and 70s than supper theatre, Feelin’ Groovy is the first of five shows that will form part of The Barnyard’s Spring Season. The other productions are The Great Pretenders (August 20 to September 8), Defending the Cave Woman (September 10 to 15), Mick & Tina (September 17 to 22) and Barry Hilton (September 24 to 29).

Devised and directed by Barbara-Ann Puren, Feelin’ Groovy is hosted by the genial Peter Taylor, formerly of the UK, who came to South Africa in 1974 with his band Copperfield which produced hit singles such as So You Win Again and Rock and Roll Singer. He “plays” a room well, interacting jovially with the audience and inviting their response at every turn.

Joking about his size with quips such as “You ever seen so much movement before from a body like this?” he has a good singing voice. I kept hoping that he would be perform a quieter number that showed his musicality off to better advantage but that was not to be

Peter Taylor’s business partner, Barbara-Ann Puren also appears in the show and long-standing Durban theatre audiences will remember her as a young student of the then Technikon Natal’s drama department. She’s come a long way since then – now has a charming stage presence and the production allows her to have a range of moods. She looks stunning and moves well, particularly when playing a mean sax in Baker Street.

Making up the vocals trio is easy-going Murray Todd, a Wits University graduate who has been working in the UK for the past five years. The band is made up of Stefan Vos (lead guitarist), Lipalesa Lebabo (bass guitarist); Michael Barber (drummer) and Michael Watt (keyboards). The set features attractive but badly-hung banners and the lighting is highly effective.

I must say that I have to question some of the arrangements and there was a tendency to pump the songs rather than look for their individual characteristics. However, the audience didn’t seem bothered by such semantics and if they’re happy enough with such presentations to support live theatre rather than sitting and home and watching television or – heaven forbid! – the utter mindlessness of Big Brother, then let’s get on with it!

Feelin’ Groovy runs until August 18. Tickets R65 from Wednesday to Saturday, with the popular “Buy One Get One Free” promotion applicable on the Tuesday night and Sunday lunchtime shows. While there is a cash bar at The Barnyard (alcohol may not be taken into the venue), audiences may bring their own picnic baskets or order from any of a number of fast-food outlets close by.

For bookings and enquiries, phone The Barnyard Theatre on 031 566-3045/6, e-mail: barngate@mweb.co.za or visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za – Caroline Smart




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