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

THE JAZZ SINGER (article first published : 2006-01-25)

At the age of 65, American singer/songwriter Neil Diamond has over 40 albums to his name and over 110 million record sales worldwide. For someone whose first royalty cheque amounted to 73 cents, he is still the third biggest seller of live concert tickets worldwide. He must be doing something right!

Audiences can see this musical magic for themselves at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest where The Jazz Singer has just opened with a tribute that does justice to this extraordinary talent.

In a tightly knit production under the sure leadership of musical director Dawn Selby - with not a backing track in sight! - six fine performers appear on a glitzy concert-styled gold-bordered platform surrounded by satiny drapes. The visual image is elegant but sassy.

Fronting the show is Grant Bell of The Gee Jays fame who also handles the linking narration. He is ably supported by guitar wizard Barry Thompson and another guitarist, the amiable Wallace Knock. One more guitarist completes the line-up with Glen Turrell offering his resonant bass to the harmonies. Mali Sewell on drums even gets his share of solo vocals – nice touch! - and Dawn is in her usual spot at the keyboards.

Tina le Roux’s lighting is excellent, subtly changing in moods from chilly glacial blues to sultry reds in a programme that ranges from the tenderness of Play Me to the foot-stomping Forever in Blue Jeans (and I might say that tonight was the first time I have actually ever heard that first word clearly – thank you, Barry!), the rousing Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show and the pulsating Holly Holy.

The lighting was particularly exquisite for You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, beautifully sung by Grant and Dawn.

Other highlights for me were Grant’s September Morn, Barry’s I Am I Said and Wallace’s Heartlight. The show finishes with a rousing Sweet Caroline - what more can I say?! It’s a winner!

The show runs at Heritage Theatre until February 26 from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h00 (meal) for 20h30 (show) and Sunday lunchtime specials at 12h30 (lunch) for 14h00 (show). Tickets R150 (R120 Tuesday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes) include the meal and show.

The menu offers some interesting new options with Garlic Escargot, Roasted Peaches and Halloumi Salad Stack as starters and we tried the first two choices. I would have preferred the snails to have been more attractively presented and while the peach was delicious it was cool and didn’t appear roasted! I chose the good old Heritage standby – the braised Lamb Shank and wasn’t disappointed. My husband, who is a very fussy eater, pronounced the Grilled Atlantic Salmon delicious. The other choices are Peri-Peri Spatchcock Chicken and Veggie Tortilla. Not included in the cover charge, dessert options average at about R21 and include Peppermint Crisp Tart, Vanilla Ice Cream, Bread and Butter Pudding and Banana Tart.

Booking on 031 765 4197 or at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




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