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.

IN THE MOOD (article first published : 2005-07-20)

What a pleasure to be presented with a show at the Barnyard at Gateway that has a total local content and not a clone of the normal circuit material dished up for these venues.

Devised by Barnyard’s Debbie Davidson and popular musical director and pianist Evan Roberts, In the Mood is a tribute to swing music. Velvet-voiced Percy Smith is a Barnyard favourite and his easy style is always an asset to a production. Good to see charming Crystal Tryon back in town with her sassy elegant style.

With her powerful voice and ever-ready sense of humour, Nothando Ngubane makes her first appearance on the Barnyard stage and hopefully this will not be her last. Another Barnyard newcomer is John Stengel who impressed in recent Dockyard productions proving yet again that he is a performer to watch.

With Evan Roberts conducting from the piano, the tight eight-piece ensemble does justice to the music. The group is made up of Shaun Peterson on drums; Tom Hare on sax, trumpet and flute; Colin Mairs on sax and clarinet and Mario Monteregge on trombone. Alistair McDonald and Michael Magner are on trumpets and Bongani Sokhela on bass guitar. I couldn’t quite understand why the double bass was placed so prominently and never used, when certain numbers cried out for its sound.

The poster reflects the phrase: “any swing goes” and this just about sums up the programme which covers everything from Glen Miller big band sound to Frank Sinatra favourites but if you’re a purist you might have a few problems. The object of the show is to bring swing music into the modern day and while I advocate exploration and inventiveness, I still believe that a song and its phrasing should stay as close to the original mood and intention as possible. I found the arrangement of some of the numbers, such as the opening medley and Pennsylvania 6 5000 too abstract. Summertime would have had the baby of the song bawling instead of sleeping peacefully! I also couldn’t find the logic for including the number Meadowlands. This simply came across as patronisingly PC.

With the focal point being a staircase which was attractively lit, the stage is constructed in such a way that the performers only have two major entrances – either downstage left or across the raised rostra and down the staircase. Terrence Bray’s costumes are a definite highlight of the show with each number featuring a different outfit. However, as many solo items follow one upon the other it did end up looking a bit like a fashion show.

Terrence’s creations are fashionably sophisticated and theatrical, often recreating the languorous soignée glamour of the Glen Miller era. However, I wasn’t happy with the cover-up outfits the girls wore before the final number. While I appreciate they are designed to dramatically reveal the gowns underneath, they looked too much like dressing gowns!

I don't pretend to be an all-knowing oracle but I get enough feedback on this subject to know that I am not a voice crying in the wilderness and when you hear of people going to Barnyard shows equipped with earplugs the better to enjoy the show, then something is seriously wrong. The Barnyard should display a government health warning. “Step over the threshold and you are in danger of damaging your hearing.” Normally I complain about the balance and the mix, but this time it was sheer volume that impeded my enjoyment, a sentiment shared by those around me.

While the quality of the performers and the choice of music carry In the Mood I would like to see it put on at a later stage with much stronger direction in a venue that has a more sensitive sound crew.

In The Mood runs until August 7. Tickets R85 (Buy One Get One Free on Tuesday night and Sunday matinee shows). Bookings and enquiries on 031 566 3045, e-mail gateway@barnyardtheatre.co.za

For more information 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