BWW Review: Belinda Davids is Whitney in THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL: A TRIBUTE TO WHITNEY HUSTON
What an absolute treat to see an amazing South African performer standing centre stage and showing us all of her incredible talent, all the while knowing how much she is also loved and respected as a performer around the world. South African born Belinda Davids has an extraordinary set of pipes on her and commands the stage as well as I imagine Whitney Huston would have done (I never got the chance to see her live). It was hard to tell what the opening night crowd was more excited for - Davids or her fairly flawless impersonation of the pop icon.
Now, I mention the fact that Davids is well loved internationally because I just love seeing talented South Africans go far and get international acclaim. It makes me so, so, so proud. Before the show kicked off, we were told about how it will be touring all over the world with the South African team. Davids has also recently received the prestigious International Special Recognition Award at the UK's National Tribute Music Awards.
So, what can you expect at the Artscape when you go see THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL: A TRIBUTE TO WHITNEY HUSTON? (And I say when, because you really should go see this musical treat.) You can expect a lot of Whitney. Davids has the hand gestures, the head tilts, the attitude and the vocal range. It's all there. Part of me wonders where she finds the courage to impersonate such a powerful and well-loved icon of the music industry, but I am glad she does.
As an added treat, after interval the audience got a sneak peek at Davids' Christmas album that she's just recorded and released. It was great to see her singing her own stuff, but a little confusing because I wasn't sure if she was still doing her impersonation or if she was singing as herself. I guess the Whitney Huston mannerisms are fairly ingrained in her performance style that they just come out naturally now
The entire production is a spectacle. The lighting and visual effects are big and bold - fitting for a big pop concert. I feel like it was just a little too dazzling for the Artscape Opera House (not that I ever thought that space was small before...), and would've been a bit more at home at a large stadium event. I loved the live orchestra, which is another group of incredibly talented South Africans. Even more brilliant local talent was on display with the backup singers and the dancers. I just wish they could've been used more to distract and entertain during Davids' wardrobe changes. In those moments, when Davids was off stage, the energy of the production dropped quite significantly - not that I think most of the Whitney Huston/Belinda Davids fans seemed to mind too much on opening night. They kept themselves going by singing, chatting about when their favourite song would be performed and uploading their pics and vids to social media (the last bit is very much encouraged by the show runners).
THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL: A TRIBUTE TO WHITNEY HUSTON is an entertaining spectacle full of South African talent that I hope Whitney Huston approves of from the great beyond. I believe that Davids is a star in her own right. She commands the stage and fills the space with her presence - clearly channelling Huston's spirit. If you love Whitney Huston, go and see this. If you love homegrown talent doing well, go and see it.
Photo credit: Supplied
THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL: A TRIBUTE TO WHITNEY HUSTON is on at The Artscape Opera House until 1 December. Tickets range from R250 to R390. Get your tickets from Computicket.