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

REPLAY (article first published : 2003-07-11)

Musical director Shelley McLean has put together a highly enjoyable and entertaining production – running without an interval – at the Royal Hotel’s intimate Backstage venue. Replay showcases the considerable musical ability of Kate Bruce, Liesl Coppin and Alan Bowen and reworks a number of popular songs in harmony – using voice and instruments.

The trio is dressed in black with elegant swathed tops designed by Terence Bray. There are no props, no backdrops or draping and the only visual points on the stage are a double bass, two guitars, a stool and a drum kit.

There are no frills, no furbelows, no singing backing tracks – just people, their voices and, in Alan’s case, his versatility on bass, guitar and drums ... not to mention, the harmonica. The girls even get to play the cymbal and a percussion “egg” – maybe by the end of the run they’ll be trying their hand at the drum kit! The show is a perfect choice for Backstage. It doesn’t stretch the venue’s sound system and the lighting is warm and cleanly focused. Every word is clearly audible. The show is honest, true and very real.

The programme includes numbers made famous by Simon and Garfunkul, Queen, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Norah Jones, Sting and many more.

Liesl and Kate impress with numbers like Under Pressure, Don’t Know why I didn’t Come, Straighten up and Fly Right, Fields of Gold, My Baby Don’t Care for Me, It’s a Hard Life, Deconstruction and the particularly beautiful Tears of Heaven.

It was refreshing to hear the uncluttered natural harmonics of a guitar proving that the instrument is a perfect accompaniment to the voice. Alan Bowen performed one of his own numbers, the poignant Thinking of You and also gave a fun rendering of I Got Rhythm on the bass and harmonica while the drums played themselves!

The show has a general appeal but those with musical knowledge will appreciate the intricacies of the arrangements.

Replay runs at the Backstage until August 2. Tickets at R120 include an impressive three-course meal. For starters there was Curried Butternut Soup which contained a bit too much curry for my liking but it would certainly boost one’s temperature on cold nights. The other starter was Mushroom and Asparagus Ragout. While this was tasty, the two separate pieces of pastry were a bit clumsy for such a subtle dish. Subtlety was evident in the smoked salmon flavoured chive sauce which accompanied the oven-baked Breast of Chicken, one of the main course options. I chose the Mildly Spiced Natal Lamb Curry. Those wary of curry needn’t be frightened, it was enjoyably mild but beware of the sambals, therein lurk chillies of powerful flavour! For dessert there was an elegant Royal Coffee Mousse.

Bookings through the Royal on 031 333 6000. See it, it’s a good show. – Caroline Smart




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