A Handful of Fun

Weekend weather forecast looking grim? Don’t let that stop you going out. Destination: iZulu Theatre, Sibaya Casino, just a few kilometres north of Umhlanga Rocks. Reason: to see the show A Handful of Keys. Stars: Roelof Colyn and James Smith. Why: Because it’s HUGE fun.

The set on the stage in the fairly grand iZulu theatre is simple: two grand pianos. Combined with two extremely talented musicians and

James Smith & Roelof Coelyn

direction by Ian von Memerty, this is all you need. Roelof and James play all the songs in this two-hour show, bar one piece, sans sheet music. The songs showcase different eras, well-known male and female pianists, South African compositions and a splendid Broadway musical medley. The latter comprises 148 songs and is played in just 12 minutes. I recognised many of the songs and sang (under my breath) and tapped my feet to the beat.

But even if the music and historical artists don’t ring a bell the humour and narration by Colyn and Smith will keep you entertained. They mock everyone they play and sing – from Elton John to Liberace, Barry Manilow to Richard Clayderman, Barbara Streisand (complete with a squint) to Stevie Wonder. They don’t spare themselves either, joking about Colyn’s age, and Smith’s wild hair and huge mouth. Costume changes, physical antics, word changes, piano swapping, completely goofy facial expressions and word play make the show so entertaining I absolutely loved it. It draws in the non-musical and at the same time highlights the superb musical prowess of these showmen.

Go on – treat yourself (a line from the show) and book to see A Handful of Keys. Tickets are available from Computicket, www.computicket.co.za, 0861 915 8000.

Show schedule: Friday 10 November 8pm
Saturday 11 November 3pm and 8pm
Sunday 12 November 3pm
Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 November 8pm
Saturday 18 November 3pm and 8pm
Sunday 19 November 3pm.

Fantastic 50: On at the Sneddon

Viv, Kasvia and Ian von Memerty

Fantastic 50 is a family-run show starring husband-and-wife team Ian and Viv von Memerty. Fifteen-year-old daughter, Kasvia, also makes a guest appearance in the show. This confident young lady was a breath of fresh air on opening night and it was a delight to watch her brief contribution.

Ian von Memerty has been in show business for many years and is known for his role as a judge in Strictly Come Dancing. I knew Ian from his piano-playing antics in A Handful of Keys, a very entertaining piece of musical theatre. Vivienne is a ballroom dancer and at 50 is a beautiful, graceful and composed woman.

The show is essentially the story of this couple’s lives, from Ian’s early days in show business, the pair’s enjoyment of travel, Vivienne’s foray into helicopter flying, their children’s tragic struggle for health, to a renewed sense of love for each other after marital and health difficulties. Singing, dancing, narrating, changing costumes (both off stage and on!) and Ian’s consummate piano playing make up this well-rehearsed revue.

Laced with humour about marriage and ageing the show will appeal largely to a select “mature” audience, and yet has the potential to attract a wider audience of families and dance lovers. I say “potential” because the show lacks the vivaciousness its title promises. On opening night Ian looked tired. And, whilst good as a backup singer, Viv’s solo singing detracts from the polish of her dance performance. Fantastic 50 seems to major on the “50” in a show that could be “fantastic”.

Fantastic 50 is on at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban at 7.30pm daily until 22 November. Contact Computicket on 0861 915 8000 or www.computicket.com.