BWW Review: OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5's Cheeky Take on Hit Musicals at Theatre On The Bay
The Offbeat Broadway franchise continues with its fifth installment of the popular musical theatre tribute/take-off. OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5 returns to Theatre on the Bay with its original three highly talented performers at the forefront, a well-respected director at its helm, and a repertoire of delightfully entertaining musical numbers from a variety of shows.
OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5's selection of numbers is aimed at all - both lovers of musical theatre and those less in the know. Some songs poke direct fun at the musical itself (like the CATS number that sings what we're all thinking), while others touch more closely to home about the upcoming elections in an ABBA medley. An absolute highlight from the show is their "wee" history of musical theatre - starting all the way in 1927 up until the likes of HAMILTON and DEAR EVAN HANSEN. The short snippets are woven together so seamlessly that James Corden et al. should take notes. What's fantastic about this revue, however, is that not only is it good for a laugh, but also finds moments of integrity in pulling off heartfelt musical numbers.
The production opens with a handful of Anton Luitingh's LAMTA students in A CHORUS LINE rip-off. Throughout OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5 there's a wonderful sense of relief that some of the future of South African musical theatre is in his hands. With his spot at the baby grand for the duration of the programme, Luitingh's piano skill glides the performance throughout as he transitions between all sorts of musical delights.
The "feminine touch" in the trio is brought by Lindy Abromowitz Sachs. She undoubtedly knows how to control her vocal cords and is magnetic on stage. A personal highlight from the show was her sincere performance of "With You" from GHOST THE MUSICAL. She is not only hard to turn away from in this production, but will definitely be one to watch in her upcoming part in KINKY BOOTS.
Last but not least Paul Du Toit - seen last year in the award-winning HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH - brings the humoristic sass to OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5. While some of the scripted jokes seemed a bit forced and one or two below-the-belt, he still has excellent comedic timing and knows how to use his facial and physical movements in such a way that had the audience in stitches.
It would also be remiss not to mention how well the aforementioned trio work together in terms of personal and musical chemistry. With their first Offbeat debuting in the early 2000s, it's evident Luitingh, Abromowitz and Du Toit share a special bond. The smoothness of their bond is echoed in their close harmonies that were goosebump-inducing for me.
No doubt director Alan Committie is to thank for the overall jovial feel of OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5. A legendary comic in his own right, he has pulled off this renewed Offbeat with charm and cheek. From song choices to minor prop additions to the overall flow, the production works well on all levels for a musical show-off without the stiffness of a fully fledged Sondheim-ic display.
Nineteen years since its inception and only returning every other year, OFFBEAT BROADWAY (much like Mr T(oerien) himself) is like the unicorn of Theatre on the Bay. Whether you are a fan of musicals, are curious about the genre, or just want a fun night out, you'll be sorry to miss this fifth fantastic musical romp.
Photo credit: Lucy Woolley
OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5 will be performed at Theatre on the Bay until 11 May. Ticket prices range from R120 to R240 and can be booked via Computicket or (021) 438-3300 (Cape Town).