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LADY SINGS THE BLUES (article first published : 2003-06-15)

Following its opening show, The Legend of Eagles, the Dockyard Theatre at the Point Waterfront has changed course to present a sophisticated, sassy and highly entertaining tribute to the blues starring Karen van Pletsen and Evan Roberts who also devised and directed the show.

Both well-established and highly popular personalities on the supper theatre and musicals circuit, Karen and Evan state up front that Lady Sings the Blues is ďnot a traditional blues show, rather a collection of numbers that have to do with having the blues, no matter what the formĒ. They pay homage to great vocalists and musicians such as the late Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, BB King and Eric Clapton.

Itís a well structured programme, allowing for changes of mood and rhythms and showcasing Karenís vocal and dramatic skills to best advantage such as in Stay. Highlights were God Bless the Child, Basin Street Blues, Summertime (which was beautiful), the melancholy Cry Me a River and Try a Little Tenderness. Ever laid-back and nicely under-played, Evan gave a delightful rendition of Feetís Too Big.

Itís a great band line-up: apart from Evan as musical director at the piano, thereís Ray Ebenezer (sax), Alan Judd (guitar), Bongani Sokhela (bass) and Shaun Petersen (drums). They start the show off in shirt sleeves and braces, creating the atmosphere of an American jazz joint of the 40ís. They came into their own in the second half medley which featured numbers such as I Got My Mojo Working and Let the Good Times Roll.

Greg King has produced a stylish and flamboyant set with vibrant red drapes and panels. Michael Broderickís inimitable stamp is on the evocative lighting design and Karenís gowns by Maison Fu Art are flattering and attractive although I would have preferred them to have been worn in a different order to suit the numbers performed.

Those who read my reviews on a regular basis will know that I am only entirely happy if the sound system allows me to hear every word of the songs. I am delighted to say that Lady Sings the Blues passes this test with flying colours.

If you like jazzy blues well presented in a cool sophisticated yet informal and entertaining style, this oneís got it all. It would stand proud on any international nightclub circuit.

The Dockyard Theatre offers a good choice menu with appropriate titles for the dishes: Starters include Lady Liberty Tartlets (Roasted Vegetable with Marscapone); Wharf Side Calamari; Beef Ellington (Beef Satay), or Wall Street Salad. I chose the latter and it was a good helping of crisp fresh ingredients. The main course is made up of Harlem Nights Chicken and Prawn Thermidor (my choice and a good one); Sirloin Manhattan; BB Kingklip (which my husband complained as being rather tough), or the vegetable and pasta dish Staten Island Stir Fry. The desserts are highly decadent and very delicious: Ebony & Ivory (Chocolate and Vanilla Mousse); Blue Note Tiramisu; Irish Coffee or Dom Pedro.

Performances Tuesdays to Sundays. Show tickets from R65 to R100, with a three-course meal at R75. Tuesday and Sunday specials: R105 (show and two-course meal). Booking on 031 332 1086 or Computicket on 083 915 8000. Ė Caroline Smart




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