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Review: A Night With The Stars

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Richard StirtonThe rich vein of South African talent has never been more clearly showcased than with ‘A Night With The Stars,’ which allowed a galaxy of young performers to give of their best and have the opportunity to experience what a “real” performance is like.

The amazing Johannesburg Youth Orchestra, whose multi-layered music reverberated through this elegant theatre, set the tone for the evening’s performance.

The music at times, though, tended to overshadow the vocals but this did not detract from the energy and enthusiasm generated by the cast.

Where on earth would you see a version of Swan Lake in the ‘hood where two petite ballerinas on stage are suddenly enveloped by members of the Dance Avenue Creed Crew who bounce around them and provide this classical piece with a totally fresh perspective. I wonder what the purists would have to say about this.

One thing I did find distracting, however, is that the show is a very busy affair and during one sequence called Defying Gravity two aerial performers, Natalie Vargas and Lelethu Mda, are working their magic around flowing silks, while singers Tima Reece and Marianthe Panas are belting out the vocals.

The show, produced and directed by the celebrated musician/arranger Bryan Schimmel, a member of the board of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra, was structured in a way to allow the many young artists to come into their own.

A duet by Joshua Moreira and Philippa Higgins of an original new song called ‘Front Row’ was skilfully handled, while Tima Reece and 11-year-old Jeanique Fourie worked well together on ‘When You Believe’.

An outstanding voice of the night was long blond haired Capetonian Richard Skirton who blew everybody away with his vocal prowess on Paul Simon’s ‘Sound of Silence’ and the iconic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. This artist has a glowing future and is ‘The Voice’ of today.

The music of the night comprised an exciting mix from film themes, such as John Williams’ ‘The Imperial March’ (Darth Vader’s Theme) to Beethoven’s ‘A Fifth of Nine’, and from Procol Harem’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ to the Ultimate South African Song Medley performed by the large Born to Perform cast.

The Johannesburg Youth Orchestra was led by the unflagging energy of conductor Eddie Clayton. Video clips of orchestra members describing the effect music had on their lives was woven into the show’s structure. Awkward Cathy was the quirky MC.

All in all, a wonderful night’s entertainment.

Peter Feldman

A Night With The Stars took place at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City Casino from 19 to 21 May 2017.

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