2012 South African Theatre Retrospective: Cabaret and Comedy
MINNIE AND JOHNSON" src="http://southafrica.broadwayworld.com/upload10/442530/GJEM01.jpg" alt="Godfrey Johnson and Emile Minnie in MINNIE AND JOHNSON" width="350" height="270" />2012 is almost over, which means that there is no better time to look back at the past year in theatre than the present. This third column in this retrospective feature on South African theatre in 2012 focuses on comedy and cabaret, with previous columns having taken a look at the plays; musicals and operas; and one more to come that zooms in on dance and physical theatre.
Cabaret acts proved to be popular across the country, growing exponentially in number as the festive season drew nearer. Lucy Tops returned to the National Arts Festival with her popular 2011 show, ABSOLUCY, where Port Elizabeth's Centrestage company presented their genre-bending NUVO RETRO TOPSY TURVY MUSIC SHOW. Roland Perold teamed up with Godfrey Johnson for COWARD AND COLE, a tribute to Noël Coward and Cole Porter, while Johnson went solo for his tribute to Jacques Brel, THE SHADOW OF BREL.
Johnson teamed up with Emile Minnie to create MINNIE AND JOHNSON, a 90-minute show that featured each of the two artists in solo spots before teaming up to perform a series of songs in a plethora of different styles. Insofar as cabaret was concerned, this was my personal highlight of the year thanks to the intimate presentational style and the sheer authenticity brought to the table by the performers. The show was immensely moving and uplifting. The piece was also enriched by original material from both performers, notably "Finally Young" from Minnie and "My Shattered Illusions" from Johnson.
Jonathan Roxmouth, who opened up 2012 playing the Phantom in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA after a season as Judas in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR in 2011 appeared in a solo piece based around the works of the kings Of comic opera, Gilbert and Sullivan. TOPSY TURVY allowed audiences to swashbuckle with the Pirate King, to giggle with the three little maids from school from THE MIKADO and to learn all about writing an original Gilbertian operetta. Reverence was certainly not the order of the day and the classic songs were rescued from the cluthes of amdram companies across the world, dusted off and given a modern twist for the audiences of today.
The prolific Followspot Productions produced a new show, FACE THE MUSIC, a combination of a revue and music trivia game show that won an Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival this year. Featuring Vanessa Harris, Lucy Tops and Leani Ekermans, the show featured chart-topping hits from the 50 years of pop music. The show proved to be so popular that a second edition of the show was created, with two new cast members, Delray Burns and Margaux Fouché, joining Harris in the lineup.