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DOUBLE TAKE (article first published : 2003-04-4)

Just a couple of weeks back, Anthony Stonier and Stephan Marnewick were performing as deliciously overblown characters in the highly successful adult pantomime Sinderella Comes Again at the Lango’s Theatre in Durban North.

Elegantly and conservatively dressed (considering what they wore in Sinderella!), this talented duo have moved to the Playhouse Cellar to present a stylish, funny and hugely entertaining show titled Double Take, sub-titled Tall, Dark and Had-Some!

It includes an interesting selection of well-loved numbers from the musicals and movie tunes. The styles are both old and new, ranging from Al Jolson to Coleske. There’s also a hilarious send up of Sarie Marais - with apologies to Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Strauss, not to mention Mimi Coertze!

Director Peter Court (also responsible for directing Sinderella) has extracted fine performances from the two men in a show which is bound to be a winner all the way. Stephan’s Somewhere Out There was a highlight for me while Anthony’s impeccable diction did credit to Noel Coward’s A Bar on the Piccola Marina.

This is Anthony Stonier at his best. We saw his skill as a “straight” performer (as opposed to a pantomime grand dame) in the excellent Let’s Misbehave. Double Take allows him to sing with passion and fervour in The World Goes Round) or with gentleness and sincerity in Charles Chaplin’s Smile. He took Climb Every Mountain - a singer’s nightmare because of its relentless drive from a low range to a high one (I know, I did it once, never again!) - and emerged triumphant.

Using his dance skills to the best of his ability on the small stage, Stephan Marnewick is a charming entertainer. Master of the laconic raised eyebrow, he’s also at home seated at the piano, when he sang his own composition, the poignant Crazed. And - move over Rory Rootenberg - Stephan gave a very credible rendering of Puccini’s soprano aria O Mio Babbino Caro!

The pair dance together in numbers like Me and My Shadow and Razzle Dazzle and there is much banter between them. Humour was derived from the fact that Anthony Stonier, normally a head above his fellow actors in high heels in the adult pantomime shows, was considerably shorter than normal against the towering Stephan. This gave him an endearing vulnerability. But, don’t worry – he gets his revenge later in the show!

Stephan Marneweck is reponsible for the set and costumes, the former comprising stylish white drapes hiding those intrusive Cellar pillars. A series of soft gauze panels at the centre back provide a good surface for Michael Broderick’s artistic lighting changes.

Sponsorship from Zonnebloem with support finance from BASA means that the production is lifted to a high level of marketing and visibility. A nice reminder of how things used to be in the performing arts here, the programme is printed on good quality card.

Tickets include a three-course meal and the current menu is excellent. Oddly, both starters are soups - I opted for the creamy Shrimp & Mussel Chowder while the other choice is Broccoli & Stilton. For the main, I had a tasty and succulent Rosemary infused Lamb Shank while my husband pronounced the Honey & Mustard Glazed Kassler Chops “excellent” (a rare accolade from him!) The other main course is Chicken Fillet Masala and there is also a Vegetarian option which changes daily. Dessert is Chocolate Sponge.

Presented by Sue Clarence Promotions, DoubleTake runs in the Playhouse Cellar until May 4. Bookings and enquiries on 031 369 9505 or 082 882 9869 or at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




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