A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

supper theatre
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

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

DIAMONDS & DUST (article first published : 2003-08-9)

After their last show, La Vida, what a pleasure it is to see the Barnyard Theatre continuing in the genre of musical theatre rather than seemingly endless compilation work of overseas artists. Their latest production, Diamonds & Dust, is a riotous celebration of some of the best contemporary music that has come out of South Africa and pays tribute to artistes such as Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Johnny Clegg, Mango Groove, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Spokes Mashiyane.

It was evident that the opening night’s audience delighted in discovering that, while the songs might not have appeared to have been part of their culture at the time they were written, they knew and identified with them and ecstatically ran with the theme of “Proudly South African”.

The show is the brainchild of Barnyard Theatre Productions’s Duck Chowles and top CapeTown-based bass guitarist Ringo Ndzuzo and has grown from an initial idea discussed between the two in 1999.

A lot of the show’s success is due to Aubrey Poo, last seen in Durban in Far from the Madding Crowd. An excellent host with perfect articulation, he whipped up the audience with the fervent zeal of a gospel minister and one almost felt like shouting “Hallelujah” every now and again!

Good to see our own Hlengiwe Lushaba holding her own with out-of-towners Zami Mdingi, Neliswa Sampi and Vuyo Myoli although I would like to see Hlengiwe approach her top notes a little more musically. I felt that Percy Smith was under-utilised - a fine performer, he really only came into his own towards the end of the show.

Providing a strong backing are Ringo Ndzuzo himself, Jerry Mbowa (drums), David Hoko (guitar) and Vusi Maseko (keyboards). The powerful brass section comprises Chris Luke, always a hot Barnyard favourite, and his colleagues Blackie Tempi (trumpet) and Ross Butcher alternating with Mlungisi Mthembu (trombone). Chris also changes instruments to provide the pennywhistle input.

The structure that formed the set of La Vida has been adapted to represent a quirky township atmosphere with a shebeen and shacks. There are rough pallisades made of branches and even a rusty bicycle on a roof! A trapdoor at the top of the staircase allows for effective smoke and lighting effects.

Diamonds & Dust takes a journey from the days of the pennywhistle and kwela (meaning “climb on board” quips Aubrey Poo), taking in the music of Sophiatown and Paul Simon’s Graceland Tour along the way. Expect to hear numbers like The Click Song, Pata Pata, African Dream, Jabulani and Great Heart as well as The Warrior and Mama Tembu's Wedding from the smash hit South African musical Ipi Tombi.

In the first half, I felt that songs often came to an abrupt conclusion as if they had been cut short. I had problems with occasional off-key notes in the harmonies and the Ladysmith Black Mambazo tribute lacked LBM’s impeccable control and compact presentation. Otherwise this is a highly enjoyable and vibrant show from an energetic and commited cast.

Diamonds and Dust runs until September 7 and then goes on to tour the rest of the Barnyard circuit. It’s a production that could go the African Footprint route and capture the overseas market. Back at home, it blazons the message: This is no import. This is us. Yours. Mine. Ours.

Tickets R70 per person with Buy One Get One Free promotions running on all Tuesday night and Sunday matinee shows. Booking and enquiries through The Barnyard Theatre on 031 566 3045, e-mail: barngate@mweb.co.za or visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za - Caroline Smart




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart