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BARNYARD IN 2005 (article first published : 2004-11-2)

The Barnyard Theatre has confirmed its 2005 season which has been planned to cover a broad array of live musical entertainment.

Heralding the beginning of the 2005 season will be the vibrant piano extravaganza Uptown Guys from January 25 to March 6 and features the anthems of two of rock’s most talented composers and singers. The two imposing grand pianos that dominate the set don’t belie the intoxicating energy of a seven-piece cast that effortlessly translates the musical passion of Elton John and Billy Joel into a foot stomping production. A concert-type atmosphere is further enhanced through audio-visual as two screens get a live feed from an on-stage cameraman. Uptown Guys covers the full spectrum of emotions as it swings from well known hits like Crocodile Rock and Piano Man to the nostalgic Just The Way You Are and Sacrifice. Other ubiquitous hits include Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, I’m Still Standing, Uptown Girl, Honesty and the world’s most popular song of all time, Candle In The Wind.

The pace changes somewhat as musical genius makes way for comedic genius. After a phenomenally successful week-long run at the theatre in 2003, Barry “The Cousin” Hilton is set to return with six shows only from March 8 to 13. He has toured nationally and internationally over the last few years and has the gift of being able to make people laugh at some of the most ordinary observations of everyday life. Barry has captured our hearts with his brand of original South African humour and sell-out performances are proof of the popularity of the country’s cleanest stand-up comedian.

The Barnyard Theatre has paid tribute to influential composers and vocalists and even the history of South African music. Things take a turn with Johnny Plays Guitar which runs from March 15 to May 8 and, while it salutes musicians, it’s dedicated to that essential rock ‘n roll instrument - the guitar. The storyline sees aspirational guitarist Johnny meet the devil at the crossroads to sell his soul to learn to play the guitar. Johnny walks down the road with his guitar to seek fame and fortune and meets up with Damien who has a pact with the devil to lure Johnny into the vices of rock ‘n roll. Johnny learns to play the guitar like never before and, together with Damien, achieves overnight success. Expect the music of guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Lenny Kravitz, Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), George Harrison (The Beatles), Sting and Steve Lukather (Toto). A highlight is an unplugged session featuring Eric Clapton, The Eagles and Bryan Adams.

It’s back to the evergreen 80s when Born To Run takes to the stage from May 10 to July 10. The Barnyard Theatre Productions teams up with Ian von Memerty for the sequel to the hit show Glory Days seen at the venue in 2002. Once again inspired by the Bruce Springsteen classic song Born to Run, audiences will see the continuing adventures of the loveable nerd Wally who is bored with mundane suburbia, so he gives up his job to become a Hell’s Angel biker. Wally has always secretly harboured the desire to be the greatest rock star of all time, Bruce Springsteen, and this time he’s got a point to prove. The show includes hits from the likes of The Police, U2, Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Whitney Houston and Cindy Lauper.

It’s back to the classics from July 12 to August 21 as In The Mood showcases ever-popular swing music. It’s a Durban collaboration as Debbie Davidson, co-owner of The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway, produces the show with local musical whiz Evan Roberts. A 10-piece band with local musicians and four vocalists will bring the magical era to life. Swing made a comeback a few years back, and as young artists continue to pay tribute to this genre of music, so the following grows. In The Mood sees the old swing classics of artists like Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington given a blast of fresh air with contemporary arrangements. Old favourites include Mack The Knife, Mr Bojangles, Something Stupid, Unforgettable and Summertime.

Elvis tales have become urban legend and Walking in Memphis, which runs from August 23 to October 2, capitalises on The King. Elvis has been spotted everywhere (apparently) and there’s a guy who works down at the chip shop who swears he’s The King. Dwight is an Elvis lookalike and has an identity crisis! He gives us the hard core facts from his fun laden 50’s style chip shop that serves everything from milkshakes to Budweisers. Walking in Memphis immortalises not only the Elvis Presley but all those who were influenced by his legacy. There is a cross section of tributes to him with the likes of ZZ Tops’ Viva Las Vegas, Chris Isaak’s Blue Moon, Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis, UB40’s Can’t Help Falling In Love and the Fine Young Cannibals’ Suspicious Minds.

The Irish have historically been known as great migrators and they’ve exported their people, literature, beer, whiskey and good nature all over the world. One of their most important contributions has been musically and The Barnyard’s year-end show, Moondance, celebrates in boisterous Irish style. The production begins on October 4, 2005, and runs until January 8, 2006 and, while it incorporates well known pub anthems, it extends beyond this to the music of U2, The Corrs, Van Morisson, The Commitments, Bob Geldof, Sinead O’Connor and Westlife and many more.

Tickets for the 2005 season are R85 (R90 for Barry Hilton and Moondance). The popular Buy One Get One Free promotions continue to run on Tuesday nights and Sunday matinees with the exception of Barry Hilton.

Bookings and enquiries from The Barnyard Theatre on 031 566 3045, e-mail gateway@barnyardtheatre.co.za or visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za




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