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GLAMOUR (article first published : 2005-08-24)

Wannabee cabaret performers should take time out to see Glamour at the Heritage Theatre where the magnetic Helene Joseph proves that professionalism on an international scale, a highly focused performance, riveting stage personality, mammoth amount of talent and a whole heap of soul makes a production of this sophisticated nature live up to its hype.

Durban audiences will remember this diminutive performer from numerous smash hit shows at the Playhouse such as Unforgettable Too, Midnight Blues, Motown Girls and Divas of Africa. Welcome back, Helene – you’ve been away too long! We’ve missed that sassy delivery, those elegant legs and that all-embracing smile as well as your complete understanding of your music, your understated movement and that million dollar look! You are also wearing just about the most enormous pair of earrings I’ve ever seen!

Following its highly successful musical, Nunsense, over the last festive season, Very Very Big Productions is to be congratulated on creating another highly enjoyable show. Director Mark Hawkins has kept his staging simple and effective, using the full depth of the stage enhanced with drapes adorned with tiny lights. It was an innovative move to introduce genial saxophonist Tom Hare who added much to the programme’s interest and the interaction between him and Helene in Route 66 made one long for a live band rather than backing tracks which would have allowed these two performers to “play” with the music much more … but budget is budget!

While Glamour features the undeniable talents and charm of dancers Angela Lardant, Quinton Ribbonaar and LIselle Sproull, I felt that the choreography leaned too much towards the balletic but I delighted in Quinton’s performance with Tom Hare in Georgia. Stephen Woodroffe’s lighting design is masterly and each lighting state offered another visual treat. I particularly enjoyed the lighting for Tom Hare’s solo after interval.

Notable numbers were No Regrets where Helene created the spine-thrilling excitement of Brel sung to a backtrack with strong Third Reich undertones, only to move immediately into the sentimental and romantic La Vie en Rose. Her vocal power came into its own with the torchy Fever, Nina Simone’s provocative My Baby Just Cares For Me, the sweeping New York New York and My Way.

Glamour runs at the Heritage Theatre, Hillcrest Heritage Market, until September 18, with lunchtime shows on Tuesdays and Sundays. Tickets R140 include a two-course meal (R120 Tuesday night and Sunday lunchtime shows). Starters (Act I) offer an appetising Spring Roll, Tomato and Basil Soup (still far too concentrated for my taste) or Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruchetta. The main course (Act II) is a good Heritage Theatre standby, Ambrosial Lamb Shank, Calamari Schnitzel (my choice and very juicy and tender, although illogically served with the steak perched on top of the French fries) and an equally tender Fillet of Chicken Breast. The other choice is Roasted Baby Butternut. The à la carte pudding menu is not included in the cover charge. Prices range from R16.50 to R22 and offers Bread and Butter Pudding, Vanilla Ice Cream, Cape Brandy Pudding and Chocolate Mousse.

Tickets R65 for the show only. Bookings on 031 765 4197. Don’t miss it! - Caroline Smart




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