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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

SIZZLE (article first published : 2003-06-4)

From the moment you arrive at Langoustine Theatre by the Sea – more commonly known as Lango’s – for the current supper theatre show, you know you’re in for something different. A promotion bar lit by miniature sunflower lamps decorates the foyer, the waitrons are attractively dressed in exotic shirts with leis or floral headgear, and one long wall of the auditorium offers a clear blue sky with wispy clouds and seagulls hanging from the ceiling as if riding thermal winds.

Directed by Carlo Spetto, Sizzle is the latest production at Lango’s and the influence of its choreographer and designer Kevin Ellis is plainly evident from start to finish. It’s good to see him back in Durban after many years away, working on cruise ship shows and performing in the Middle East. He’s still in fine form as dance leader and the adagio numbers were impressively-presented.

Sizzle offers Latin routines as well as numbers made popular by Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Estefan. I particularly enjoyed the opening sequence where psychedelic props depicting fruit are turned round to reveal the show’s titles. In the absence of a programme, why wait until the end to tell the audience who’s who?

Kevin Ellis’s sense of the dramatic came to the fore in El Tango de Roxanne, an explosive and highly energetic number, which he performed with graceful lead dancer, Kimbol Masters.

The other dancers – Denya Maslen, Melanie Hartman and Candice Dafel – brought a sexy and professional showbizz razmatazz to the Lango’s stage. The costumes are stunning, very much à la Sun City extravaganzas.

Sizzle includes a couple of items from the Radical Magic of Vicus, a nicely controlled and easygoing magician. The engaging soloist Miles Hartman is a welcome newcomer to the Durban supper theatre circuit. He was punted as having a “golden voice” and I have to admit that advance hype wasn’t far wrong.

Sound was good and well-balanced although sometimes disconcertingly powerful enough to fill the Playhouse Opera! The backing track could do with some attention, though, before the show goes much further into its eight week run as there are some jarring stops which spoil the flow.

My biggest gripe, though, was with the lighting and this definitely needs attention. This is a fast-moving and highly visual production and the dancers barely have time to breathe in between the dizzying number of items. In the main, the lighting effects are beautiful but most of them happen behind the dancers and, without sufficient front lighting, their faces are often left in complete darkness. I appreciated the use of the side stage allowing choreography to extend another couple of metres across the stage but this area was insufficiently lit and many nice moments were lost.

Sizzle runs until July 20. Shows are Tuesday to Saturday at 19h00 (dinner) for 20h30 (show) and Sunday afternoons at 14h00 prompt. Tickets R130 Wednesday to Saturday include a three course meal and show (R65 show only). Tuesday Ladies Night special R100 includes show with two course meal (guys welcome!) or R65 (show only). There is no set meal on Sunday afternoon. In all instances non-diners are welcome at R65 pp (show only).

The menu has a definite Mexican/Spanish flavour. Starters include Tom Yum Soup with prawns and chilli; Nachos drenched with Mozarella (the spice is provided in the accompanying sauces) or a Chourico Portuguese Sausage. I chose the Chicken Tortilla for the main course and this, as well as the other option of Sirloin in jalopena sauce was very enjoyable. The other choice is a pasta dish with Lemon Lime Sauce. For dessert – although I didn’t have any, as that particular fruit and I don’t agree – there’s Pancakes filled with Foster Bananas.

Booking is at Lango’s Theatre direct on 031 563 7324 or through Computicket or on 011 340 8000. – Caroline Smart




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