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BORN TO RUN (article first published : 2005-05-21)

Anyone who liked Glory Days which was put on by the Barnyard Theatre in Gateway in 2002 will enjoy Born to Run which opened at the same venue this evening.

Back in the starring role is Andrew Webster as Wally, the lovable nerd who wants to be a somebody. The highest goal of his “world travel” is a picture of Stanger which acts as his computer’s screensaver. As he quips, his generation of South African youngsters are “born to run”. He may not be much on the glamour and macho stakes but he knows his technology and before long he has cornered the market of journeying to virtual exotic destinations through his website www.gargle.com

This scenario guides audiences through a programme of 80’s music until Wally’s computer business crashes – Google.com refusing to believe that he’s not plagiarised their name – and back home he comes. The show closes with some table-thumping numbers such as Jabulani and Home Talk.

Andrew is joined by Ramaine Barreiro of the powerful voice and, oh so, nimble feet who was also in Glory Days along with Barnyard favourite, Chris Luke, on sax as well as Mark Freel (bass guitar) and Alan Lloyd (drums). Highly welcome newcomers to the concept are Granville Michaels as the third vocalist, Gavin Knox Grant on trumpet, Josh Thatcher on guitar and Conrad Schoenraad on keyboards.

The show opens with a brass blast from Chris Luke and Gavin Knox Grant and the energy keeps going from there. They return again later in the evening for an amusing musical duel.

Normally I have much to say about the Barnyard’s sound but this time I was very happy. In the main, the sound was crisp and clear but in her first song, Ramaine indicated to the sound desk to increase the volume from the monitors. This immediately rendered her “incoherent” and I wish that she could have heard the difference the chance in the levels made. She is a powerful and generous singer and as an audience member, you don’t want to lose a single essence of her performance.

All traces of the nerd vanished when Andrew positively exploded into It’s My Life, effectively showing us what he’s capable of. Apart from being hampered by an overlong pair of trousers which nearly had him tripping, Granville Michaels was smooth, easygoing and a joy to watch – his Michael Jackson number was a highlight. Let’s hope Durban sees much more of him.

Other memorable numbers were Everything I do, More Than Words, Simply the Best and the rousing I Love Rock & Roll. Joss Thatcher had the audience raving with his solo in .

As before, the show is devised by Duck Chowles and directed and scripted by Ian von Memerty. Basically, it’s a rock concert with a bit of dramatic humour thrown in. There is no fanciful set and the stage is flanked by scaffolding towers with the drummer seated at the top of a flight of stairs, so you can focus entirely on the music. The visual excitement comes from Michael Broderick’s dramatic and sophisticated lighting design, particularly in Fire. I wish I could say the same about the costumes which were uninspiring, to say the least.

Born to Run is due to run until July 10. The Barnyard is a supper theatre venue although patrons take their own food (no alcohol to be brought in as there is a cash bar). Tonight members of the media were treated to large pizzas by Mmimo and our choice of spicy chicken was very enjoyable (R36). For the first time I tried one of Barnyard’s dessert cakes from Gateaux Chateau – mine was a delicious and very rich caramel (R10).

Tickets R85 (Buy One Get One Free on Tuesday nights and Sunday matinees. For bookings and enquiries, phone The Barnyard Theatre on 031 566 3045, e-mail gateway@barnyardtheatre.co.za or visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za – Caroline Smart




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