Review: STRICTLY BRITISH at Milnerton Playhouse Is a Fun, High-Energy Ode to British Music

This musical revue showcases some of the most loved British music in history.

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It is near impossible to pinpoint what exactly the essence of 'British music' is. It is far too varied to be distilled into a single type or genre. Indeed, it spans centuries. However, after the talented cast of STRICTLY BRITISH danced off stage after their final number of the night, I certainly felt like I had a better grasp of this elusive 'it' than I had before. Indeed, the scope of this revue is staggering - it feels like nothing is missed.

From an Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-musical medley, to a selection from Gilbert and Sullivan, to legendary bands like Queen and the Beatles to contemporary greats like Adele and Ed SHeeran, this show covers the best of British music - there will truly be (many) something(s) for everyone! Even the music that I have just referenced is but a tiny sample of the smorgasbord of songs performed.

The show includes twelve talented performers, each of whom get their well-deserved time to shine. The revue is hosted by the MC (Andrew Weiss and Rob Shenton alternating) and the entire show is accompanied by a four-piece band. Tersia Harley, Band Leader and pianist, Johan Rossouw on drums, Anton Eloff on the keyboard and Niel van der Colff on bass guitar are excellent. I particularly enjoyed van der Colff's (who is still at school by the way!) accompanying of Musical Director Barend van der Westhuizen's "Tears in Heaven" which is beautiful and raw. Both singer and guitarist nail it. Another highlight is Harley's taking a break from the keys to take centre stage and to belt out "As Long as He Needs Me" - her voice is as superb as her piano-playing.

'THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL Star Belinda Davids Returns To Joburg TheatrePeppered throughout the performances are narrations by the MC. On the night I went, Weiss was the MC. These interludes are both informative, in that they provide a bit of background to the songs, and comedic in that, without providing 'spoliers', there are various antics that involve a certain Mr Foil (David Bolton). Throw in some hilarious references to British culture from the likes of Mr Bean to Paddington Bear, and you have a production that is filled to the brim with nostalgia and your favourite tunes.

There are too many excellent acts to mention individually but I loved the Adele "Rumour Has It"/"Someone Like You" mash-up sung by the talented women of the cast: Claire Kieffer-Walker, Kerryn Warren, Melissa Sanderson, , Michelle Hough and Tasnim Murphy. Their collective sound is really powerful and the choreography is such fun. I was also a huge fan of Sanderson, Hough and Murphy in "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse. It has a speakeasy kind of feel to it and the ladies own the stage.

The creativity in this production really stands out - in all aspects: choreography, musical arrangements and all-together presentation. The mash-ups work really well - van der Westhuizen has done a stellar job of getting the best out of his singers. This is an even more impressive feat since van der Westhuizen is, as already mentioned, one of the performers himself. The harmonies are fantastic and the delivery of the chosen songs is fresh and unique.

'THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL Star Belinda Davids Returns To Joburg TheatreOnto choreography, Shayni Pappin-Davidson has crafted some really lovely numbers. I adored the movement in "Our House" by Madness (performed by the men of the company: James Lister, John Bauman, Lance Laubscher, Barend van der Westhuizen and David Bolton) which is truly a lesson in construction (you will have to see the show to appreciate my pun). There is also a beautiful, sensual dance, gently undertaken by Kieffer-Walker and Laubscher - it is intimate, natural and is the perfect accompaniment to Ed SHeeran's "Thinking Out Loud".

Kyla Thorburn's strong direction shines through in this tight, well-paced show which runs seamlessly. The dramatic lighting, the sweeping stage and the use of a projector to help the audience to follow along provide the cherry on top of this modern-day music-hall revue.

You are guaranteed to be mouthing or even humming along and I cannot promise that your feet will not involuntarily tap along to these fine performances - you have been warned.

STRICTLY BRITISH runs from 6 to 21 May on Thursdays to Sundays with evening performances at 20:00 and matinees at 14:00. There is also a show on Wednesday 17 May at 20:00. Tickets are R140 for matinees and R150 for evening shows and can be booked via the Milnerton Players website.



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