Suter’s Showbiz Spotlight

IT may have started a week late due to having undergone script rewrites at the 11th hour following the loss of a cast member, but for all that, and with only four performers, Durban’s 22nd annual naughty panto for adults manages to pull through very well indeed.

In fact, while somewhat short at about an hour, Twice Upon a Mattress – The Princess and the P is probably the best mini panto staged to date at the cosy OnStage@Altitude, in Silver Avenue, Stamford Hill, the home for the pantos since they stopped being staged at Suncoast Casino a few years ago when renovations began there.

Written and directed by Thomie Holtzhausen, Twice Upon a Mattress – The Story of The Princess and the P, has a very loose theme indeed, but there are sufficient good jokes and funny lines, as well as a varied song selection and some exuberant performances, to ensure the pile of nonsense makes for a highly enjoyable night out.

Ebullient

The cherry on the top is newcomer Philisiwe Ntintili (pictured top with Jaziel Vaugh’hann), a second-year drama student at Durban University of Technology (DUT), who is easy on the eye, makes for an ebullient stage presence, has a good voice and is definitely an actress to watch.

Her fellow cast members are popular old pro Holtzhausen, performing in his 11th panto as both the safari-suited king, head of the Briated household, and his tottering, tipsy wife, Queen Annie Briated. Holtzhausen also makes a cameo appearance as a comical old Indian woman, a character that has become a staple in recent naughty pantos.

Completing the cast are lanky and animated Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande, also a panto regular in recent years, who plays the wife-seeking Prince Ample, and Jaziel Vaugh’hann, in drag once again and probably the best he’s been in recent years, as shady dames who wish to woo the prince.

Party the night away

Scheduled to run until January 12, Twice Upon a Mattress – the Story of The Princess and The P accommodates only 10 tables of eight, all of which are cleared away after the entertainment to allow for partying the night away on the dancefloor.

The panto will be staged from 7.30pm to 9.30pm every Wednesday to Saturday. Patrons are encouraged to take along their own picnic baskets or snacks, but drinks must be bought at the venue’s small pub.

Tickets cost R150 each but lower-priced performances have been scheduled for the Mondays, December 3, 10 and 24, when tickets cost R100 each.

Additionally, there is one Tuesday performance on December 18, for which tickets cost R150 each.

For any further information, or to book as a group, contact Thomie of It’s Taboo Production at 064 476 9533. Online bookings can be done via Quicket.

For my full review of this giddy romp, click here

The Blarney Brothers perform in Pietermaritzburg at 8pm on December 1 and 2pm on December 2.

On the music front, The Blarney Brothers will close the year at the Rhumbelow Theatre’s Pietermaritzburg branch, at the Allan Wilson Shellhole, at 8pm on Saturday (December 1) and 2pm on Sunday (December 2).

Now celebrating its 44th anniversary, the trio of Irish singer-musicians are specialists at Irish ballads, catchy pub songs, popular chart successes and the occasional Irish jig.

Siblings

The band comprises siblings Paul and Damien McIlroy and fellow band member, Tony Fisher, all of whom settled in South Africa in the ’70s.

Tickets cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners and students with a valid card) and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland at 082 499 8636.

Performing at the Music in the Hills (MiTH) fortnightly event in Hilton on Wednesday, December 5, will be versatile Durban band The Black Lapels, scheduled as the headliner act from 9pm.

MiTH is held in a barn at The Knoll Historic Guest Farm in Knoll Drive, Hilton. Doors open at 6pm and the music starts at 7pm. Entrance is R30 at the door.

The Black Lapels – from Durban – have a performance in Hilton on December 5.

The Black Lapels is a band headed by singer, songwriter and guitarist Rob Warren, and his brother, bassist and vocalist Garth Warren. They are regularly joined by Gareth Gale on drums and fellow Durban guitarist Rusty Red, who is not only a gifted musician but also a talented recording engineer.

The MiTH 8pm pick for December 5 is Melanie Nash, who offers a good mix of folk-pop and contemporary music. Pietermaritzburg’s Matt Gardiner, who describes his music as indie-folk with a slight rock undertone, entertains from 7.30pm, and Midlands-based singer-songwriter and pianist Grace Botha opens the evening’s fun at 7pm.

MiTH is a semi-open mic music club. Take along your own booze. Food and soft drinks are on sale. For more details phone Charles Webster at 082 331 7271 or Doug Borain at 072 340 7034.

More events in the KZN Midlands

Meanwhile, Overstone Farm near Wartburg is hosting “The Summertime Feels”, an afternoon of relaxing music, on Sunday, December 2.

The music is provided by pianist Lara Kirsten and the duo of St John Haw and Tanya Nicolson.

The venue is a beautifully repurposed old barn surrounded by lawns. Guests are invited to bring along a picnic, drinks and a chair.

Tickets are R100 each (children under 12 get in free). For info contact Tanya on 071 353 9539, or Phillippa on 083 290 1153.

Co-ordinates to the farm are: -29.365575, 30.762536

The Reals, with guest guitarist Shaun Dragt (left), present British Invasion in Durban.

Worth checking out at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, Umbilo, is The Reals band’s British Invasion, a fun show celebrating great British music acts, including Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Beatles, The Hollies, The Clash, Queen, Bad Company, The Verve and others.

The show, with guitarist Shaun Dragt as a special guest, is scheduled for performances at 8pm on Saturday (December 1) and 2pm on Sunday (December 2) and again from next Friday to Sunday.

Tickets cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners and students with cards) and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland at 082 499 8636.

For my full review of British Invasion click here

Meanwhile, a reminder that the Rhumbelow Theatre branch at Tina’s Hotel in Beryldene Road, Kloof, is presenting The Foxy 4 every Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm, until December 9.

The production stars Leigh Meyer, Marion Loudon, Jemma Kate Badenhorst and Camilla Rogers. It salutes artists including Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Adele, The Supremes, Marilyn Monroe, Carole King, Nelly Furtado, Rihanna, Gloria Estefan, Cilla Black and Aretha Franklin.

Tickets cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners and students with cards) and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland at 082 499 8636.

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie. Picture: 20th Century Fox.

On the movie scene, new in cinemas countrywide this weekend is the eagerly awaited film about British band Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.

Directed by Bryan Singer, the film cost $50 million to make and has already, according to Wikipedia, raked in $472.5m, making it the most profitable musical biographical film in history.

SHOWBIZ TRIVIA:
Do you know? Who sang the opening line of the original 1984 version of Do They Know It’s Christmas, by Band Aid, an-all star group that recorded the song for the starving in Ethiopia? (Answer next week).

Last week’s question: What American singer, in 1960, when he was 16 and serving four months in prison for stealing tyres, was so heavily influenced by the Elvis Presley hit, Now Or Never – which he heard while in jail – that it motivated him to pursue his own music career? (Answer: Barry White)