BWW Reviews: Kick Back and Relax as Maxwell and Perold SHOW AND TELL at the Kalk Bay Theatre
There are two sides to every story, they say, and also two ways of telling a story. SHOW AND TELL takes both of those ideas, mixes them up with several other apparently contradictory notions - youth and age, nostalgia and cynicism and so on - and pairs, as the song "Only an Older Woman" puts it, someone 'who's been 'round the block' (the ever glamorous Michele Maxwell) with 'something that's new' (the urbane Roland Perold). The result is a charming and intimate musical revue that takes a behind-the-scenes look at show business, with stories about and songs made famous by personalities like Judy Garland, Noël Coward, Marlene Dietrich and Elaine Stritch.
In SHOW AND TELL, Maxwell and Perold both take on the roles of pianist, singer and raconteur and the evening kicks off with a classic showbiz medley made up of songs like "Razzle Dazzle", "Make 'Em Laugh" and "There's No Business Like Show Business". When the latter is mashed-up with "Why Must the Show Go On?", it sets the scene for a series of alternative arrangements of musical theatre songs that appear throughout the show, including "Rainbow High" and "U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D". Who would have thought that Andrew Lloyd Webber songs would sound so great on a ukulele?
The show is at its best when it is playing around with musical styles in that way, when Maxwell and Perold banter about their differences in age, their different life experiences and the foibles of their professions (built around a hysterical duet, "I Play Around") and during tributes to some of the great showbiz personalities. Maxwell takes on Garland, Dietrich and Stritch, capturing some of these three great women's idiosyncrasies in her respective deliveries of "You Made Me Love You", "Falling in Love Again" and a tragicomic sketch about "Booze".
SHOW AND TELL is a really relaxed and relaxing 75 minutes for musical theatre lovers. On opening night, there was a sense that the show was still finding its feet. After a couple of performances, the show that is on stage at the Kalk Bay Theatre will play in as Maxwell and Perold work how audiences respond to the jokes, when to push through and when to milk a moment for all its worth. Under the sure hand of director Paul Griffiths, they are almost there.
Looking ahead, though, it is worth pointing out that while SHOW AND TELL has a winning concept and the selection of material mostly works well for what the performers are trying to achieve, there are times when the evening feels a little loose and when the audience needs a more of a tour de force over a less well known albeit charming number. The show's closing needs a slightly bigger lift than "But Alive" - or perhaps just a flashier arrangement of that showtune from that showtune from APPLAUSE - and with Maxwell doing such great work in the Stritch sketch, it seems like she should be rounding it off with "The Ladies Who Lunch" or "I'm Still Here". Perold also needs a bigger set piece to showcase his solo talents.
All of that aside, there is plenty for audiences to enjoy in SHOW AND TELL. It is the kind of show where one is able to kick back and relax, perhaps bringing with you a glass of wine from the Kalk Bay Theatre's upstairs restaurant, and simply be entertained.
SHOW AND TELL will be performed Wednesday to Saturdays at 8pm until 31 May, with a matinee on Sunday 25th May at 14:30. Tickets cost R90 and R70 for gallery seats. To book visit www.kalkbaytheatre.co.za
Photo credit: Robert Kirsner