Theatre review: OFFBEAT BROADWAY 4 – Older, fatter, slower.

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

High energy time-travel through Broadway musicals.

Watching this trio unleash their satirical humour and musical genius onto the audience is like being hurtled along a roller-coaster of hysterical laughter and intense nostalgia.

The threesome call Offbeat Broadway 4: older, fatter, slower, but they are certainly not acting their ages. For nearly two hours Anton Luitingh, Paul du Toit and Lindy Abromowitz, in their own words, ‘re-hash and murder Broadway musicals from the Pacific’s rim to Qatar’s crotch’.  But they don’t really.  With tongues firmly in cheek they offer us a funny and moving romp through some of the most popular musicals such as Evita, CATS, Rocky Horror Show, Grease, Showgirls, Les Miserables, Chicago and more.

Naturally they put their own witty spin on it and make the many international productions more accessible to South African audiences but adding a local and contemporary flavour. They dance and sing and frolic their way through the musicals with such zeal it will leave you breathless and begging for more despite its long run. It is definitely not a slap-stick, randomly botched together, mish-mash of extracts of the greatest musicals of time. They have, very intelligently, and obviously with great respect for the work that they are dealing with, carefully and seamlessly woven the songs into each other so that each composition of songs become a sketch, a kind of a journey, sometimes a little melancholy, but mostly just very amusing and sagacious.

All of this is enough of a pleasure to watch, however add to the pot Alan Committie’s sharp direction, and the threesome’s incredible experience and talent, and you are in for a monumental musical treat.

Anton Luitingh tickles and teases the piano with zeal and consummate skill. Lindy Abromowitz throws her self into every song and her musical range is spectacular. She does not seem to have a set style but rather, like a singing and dancing chameleon – if there were such a creature – transform her voice and personality to suit the act; whether she is doing the long-suffering Christine in Phantom of the Opera, the sultry serial killer in Chicago, or the eternally optimistic Annie.  Her performance simply drips with satire. The range of Paul du Toit’s voice is brilliant. His comic timing is without fault. It is easy to see why their previous three productions garnered them a string of award nominations.  Their new show features a lot of new material interspersed with old favourites.

How do you really condense the magnitude of the Phantom of the Opera into 5 minutes without killing it and turning it into a disrespectful sad joke? They somehow do. Their condensed version is very funny, and the overly romanticism of the musical’s soul is thoroughly poked at, however they still remain true to the essence of Phantom and the nature of its characters.

Their lamenting about the great Lion King rip-off, which brings with it Disney style goodies such as kitsch looking caps, key-rings, soft toys and other expensive paraphernalia, that your children force you to buy, is spot on.  

The choreography is fast and clever and the lighting ads character to a relatively bare stage.

Lovers of musical theatre will adore this high energy time travel through many of their favourite, and not so favourite, shows. Despite all the laughter you will find quite a few ‘lump in the throat’ moments as you are transported by this talented trio. Even if you big Broadway musicals are not really your thing, if enjoy a good wholesome laugh and you’re not impartial to a well- carried tune you too will enjoy this production.

Directed by Alan Committie. With Anton Luitingh, Lindy Abromowitz and Paul du Toit. At Theatre on the Bay until 29 October at 8pm. ASTRID STARK reviews.

Tickets are from R80. To book call Computicket’s Call Centre on 083 915 8000 or visit www.computicket.com. Shows run from Tuesday to Saturdays.  On Saturdays there is a Matinée show at 5pm as well as the 8pm show.

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