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THE MOTOWN STORY (article first published : 2005-02-19)

After what has been a very frustrating period of uncertainty for The Dockyard and the restaurants on the Point Waterfront, the bulldozers won’t be moving in just yet as development has been halted until early next year! So it’s business very much as usual at this congenial venue with its magical views over the harbour entrance and passing ships.

Stuart Mey, producer and co-owner of the Dockyard, decided that the first production of 2005 would launch on a big scale – “big show, big cast, big band…”. The Motown Story follows the usual Dockyard formula. It’s fronted by Stuart and features his excellent band led by Bruce Boome, the show’s musical director, who always succeeds in reproducing the accurate sound of the artistes featured. Back again on the Dockyard Stage, after impressing audiences in the Joe Cocker show; is the young brass section of trombonist David Solomon, trumpeter Russell Scott and Kirsty Madgin on saxophone although I felt they were a bit under-utilised this time round..

Handling the vocals alongside Stuart Mey are Clive Gumede, Nicky Mey, Karen Wood and Nomi Zondi who have all appeared in previous Dockyard shows. They make a strong well-balanced team although Nomi Zondi tends to be a little strident at times and the choreography needs tightening. The programme showcases artists like The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and the late great Ray Charles.

I enjoyed numbers such as He’s so Fine; Heard It Through The Grapevine; Rescue Me; My Guy and the Supremes Medley as well as the two versions of One Fine Day. Stuart was at his best with For Once In My Life and, with Clive, Tell It Like It Is. The show closed with a rousing Hit the Road Jack.

Stuart Mey’s designs worked in the main - the band looking very smart in two sets of outfits (liked the grey jackets, guys!). Some of the girls’ costumes were very attractive (liked the sexy black gowns, girls!) although I had to agree with Stuart’s comment regarding their first outfit which did look a bit like “Motown Airlines”! I had a real problem with the set for the first half which, while quite pleasingly depicting the frontage of houses, was produced in varying shades of pastel and would have been more suitable for a lightweight musical about café society. Although Motown music is generally of a cheery nature, it needs more visual strength than that and I welcomed the dramatic change after interval when the backdrop came down to hide the set, allowing the skeletal trees covered with lights to introduce a more sophisticated feel.

Lovers of Motown music won’t be disappointed with this production which runs until April 24.

Tickets: R80 show only or R140 includes a two-course meal with appropriately-named dishes. I made a good choice with the Steak Supreme and my husband (who is very particular) enjoyed his Marvin’s Marvellous Grilled Hake. Other options are Stevie’s Grilled Chicken Kebabs in a sweet and sour sauce, Vandellas’ Spicy Chicken Pasta or Papa’s Vegetarian Pasta. The desserts are totally decadent! We particularly enjoyed the Temptation Pie with its brandy tart base but Ebony and Ivory, a chocolate meringue cake, was way too rich for me. The other choice is Chiffon Sundae. We received excellent service all round from waitron Jason who whipped away a very creased tablecloth almost before I’d requested him to do so!

Bookings through Karen on 031 332 1086. Dockyard also offers special prices on Sundays and Tuesday Ladies’ Nights.

The Dockyard Theatre will hold auditions for upcoming shows on February 28 from 10h00 at the theatre, Point Waterfront (next to Splashes). Management is looking for male and female singers aged 18 to 35. Auditionees must come prepared with a song/s from the rock/pop genre and own backing tracks are essential. Auditions are by appointment only - phone Karen on 031 332 1086 between 09h00 and 16h00.




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