BWW Review: LANGARM Glides Its Way Into the Hearts of Audiences at The Fugard Theatre

BWW Review: LANGARM Glides Its Way Into the Hearts of Audiences at The Fugard Theatre

Born out of David Kramer's photographic intrigue and romantic imaginings, LANGARM presents a snippet into a lesser-explored world of 1960s District Six that combines the best of experienced local performers with rising talent to watch. From breaking laws to breaking hearts, this latest Kramer production is a magical musical and dance journey through a fresh offering to The Fugard stage.

The story opens in a hotel where recent widow Dinah has taken ownership of her late husband's District Six establishment. In walks her nephew Jeff, fresh from Johannesburg and a newly broken-off engagement and he is soon introduced to sassy local dancer Angelina who had been using Dinah's hotel space for dance rehearsals. With the hotel needing a new burst of energy, a dance competition looming, and Angelina's latest dance partner calling it quits, she and Jeff embark on a partnership that takes love and the law into their own hands.

Rushney Ferguson and Cameron Botha star as the forbidden dance duo that makes sparks fly onstage. The two young actors were clearly chosen for their lead roles because of their strengths as triple threats. Ferguson - who holds various advanced BWW Review: LANGARM Glides Its Way Into the Hearts of Audiences at The Fugard Theatretertiary levels in dance - takes the dance element of LANGARM in her stride and also proves herself as a talented songstress in standout solos and duets. Her character comes off as abrasive at first, but softly melts into a scared and authentic young woman who puts her freedom and life at risk for love. As her counterpart, Botha may not be as strong as his fellow ensemble dancers but is a captivating actor and singer who takes command of the stage as soon as he arrives on it.

Elton Landrew undoubtedly steals the spotlight as endearing Eddie. His comical portrayal is only supported by his natural ability to serve home truths with a smile and even his more serious dialogue is captivating. Other standouts include Pierre Nelson, fairly new to the Cape Town theatre scene, whose all-too-familiar late 20th century Afrikaner Van der Byl is so detestable that he is excellent in his role; and Kim Louis as Dinah, whose voice is matched by no other onstage. Louis and Landrew make such a perfect pairing that one almost becomes engrossed in their storyline rather than the young ballroom lovers.

BWW Review: LANGARM Glides Its Way Into the Hearts of Audiences at The Fugard Theatre

The main cast is supported by a physically and vocally talented and flexible ensemble. Both acts open with strong dance numbers where the ensemble casts prove their strengths and where Grant Van Ster allows his multifaceted choreography to shine. Throughout the production, Van Ster proves his skill in adapting to various dance styles while using various levels of skill, making an absolutely mesmerizing picture onstage. In combination with the play's direction, setting and technical achievements, there has been clear consideration given towards making the most of The Fugard's intimate stage space and making the swinging sixties world of The Canterbury Hotel come to life.

BWW Review: LANGARM Glides Its Way Into the Hearts of Audiences at The Fugard TheatreLANGARM's score has been skillfully composed and arranged that make some pieces more memorable than others. Without each sounding like the next, there is an individuality to musical numbers in this production while there are also some more familiar covers exemplary of the time period. Charl-Johan Lingenfelder has done well to arrange a score that works to the actors' strengths and has directed them in such a way that each number is delicately approached by performers where they know exactly when and how to hit the right notes to tug at your heart strings.

Unique technical aspects such as the use of projections, vintage film reels and historical subtitles add to one's understanding of LANGARM's opening action. The band's placement is particularly refreshing, and a clever use of the stage's revolve makes scene changes seamless; allowing action to never dip or run slowly throughout the musical. With that being said, the plotline seems to dance away with itself slightly in the second act and comes to a sudden and unexpected end.

BWW Review: LANGARM Glides Its Way Into the Hearts of Audiences at The Fugard Theatre

Perhaps it can be seen as skillful to allow audiences to draw their own conclusions right before curtain call; as no one truly wants to come face-to-face with the inevitable reality. Kramer has therefore excelled once again in creating a production that is true to the community it is made for and made with. Aside from an impressive score and a visual appetite of setting and movement, the underlying historical significance of LANGARM is an important address to make in Cape Town; let alone in the heart of District Six itself.

Charming, truthful, and romantic, this new production will be the talk of the town this festive season. A director to wax lyrical about and a cast and crew to be proud of, LANGARM has created the ideal combination of talents in its daring and dazzling musical offering.

Photo credit: Claude Barnardo


LANGARM will be performed at The Fugard Theatre from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm with a matinee performance on Saturdays at 3pm. From Sunday 16 December, there will be an additional Sunday matinee at 3pm. There will be a Monday night performance at 8pm on New Year's Eve, 31 December 2018 also at 8pm. Tickets ranging from R150 to R260 can be booked through The Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554 or through The Fugard Theatre's website at www.thefugard.com.

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From This Author Lindsay Kruger

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