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

JOHNNY PLAYS GUITAR (article first published : 2005-03-31)

A dedication to the instrument of rock, Johnny Plays Guitar is running at the Barnyard Theatre at Gateway. It is a vibrant rock show telling the story of a musician’s journey into the world of showbiz.

It’s a clever plot with the protagonist, Johnny Lightning (Barry Thomson), pitted against the dark antagonist, Damien (Donovan Hattingh). The storyline builds tension when Damien’s girl (Desire Henning) falls for Johnny and the “Devil’s advocate of rock and roll” vows revenge.

Johnny’s agent, Willie Brown (Lebo Mochudi) comes to the rescue and a guitar duel is arranged. The story is told through great guitar hits such as Barracuda, Juke Box Hero, Voodoo Child and My Immortal.

Thomson and Hattingh excel and showcase breathtaking guitar playing. Hattingh’s seemingly effortless control over the instrument and his deep passion shine throughout the show. Mochudi is highly entertaining as the agent and his energy links the show extremely well.

Special mention needs to be made of bass guitarist Andy Turrell’s complementary presence as well as Mali Sewell on the drums. Calli Thomson provides good support on the keyboard.

Henning parades in stunning outfits and is extremely comfortable on stage – sometimes too comfortable and at times appears a little separated from the ensemble.

The selection of music was great and fortunately my knowledge of the lyrics allowed me to enjoy the songs despite the bad sound imbalance. However, the show is, after all, about the rock guitar!

Unfortunately, amplified sound was not always used in dialogue and this can dethrone a potential hit. Otherwise, the Barnyard recipe of generating audience response and the final drawn-out encore yet again satisfies the customers!

This was a highly entertaining evening out devised and written by Barry Thomson and Duck Chowles and presented by the ever-professional team at Barnyard Gateway.

Tickets R85 (Buy One Get One Free promotions Tuesday and Sunday). For bookings phone The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway on 031 566 3045. – Thomie Holtzhausen




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