Spirited cast makes for a joyous evening of tribute fare

Spirited cast makes for a joyous evening of tribute fare

SHOW: Forever Young
CAST: Percy Smith, Wayne Cumming, Demi Moore, Tiaan Rautenbach, Chris Clarke, Ruan Oosthuyzen, Vusi Maseko, Mark Freel, Denzil Erasmus
Venue: Barnyard Theatre
REVIEW: Peter Tromp

Tribute shows live or die by their casts. Even the most sloppily put together thing can be rescued by a spirited, energetic group of players and singers. There’s nothing slapdash about ‘Forever Young’, Willowbridge Barnyard Theatre’s tribute to popular music’s most famous casualties. It is has a sizeable smidgen of glitz and glamour, as well as a set list comprised of interesting choices. That being said, little about it pushes the envelope. The cast and their enthusiasm for the material is what pushes this show to be more than the sum of its parts.

So much of what works in ‘Forever Young’ is embodied in the diminutive figure of Chris Clarke. Throughout the guitarist cuts an almost heroic figure, in the vein of ACDC’s Angus Young, giving it his all for every second he is on stage, a huge grin never leaving his face. That unbridled enthusiasm ultimately becomes infectious, and before long one becomes firmly invested in proceedings.
If you’ve seen as many tribute shows as I have over the years – many, many of them uninspiring affairs populated by deadeyes aplenty – you really do respond to authentic displays of joy in the performing of the music. It was obvious throughout that his cast mates fed off Clarke’s school-boyish excitement, and it makes ‘Forever Young’ a lot of fun for the audience.

Another performer who was untiring throughout on the evening I saw the show was Percy Smith, whose renditions of James Brown’s ‘A Man’s World’ and ‘I Feel Good’ especially raised the collective pulse. It contained the kind of showmanship that one doesn’t customarily see at tribute affairs, and the crowd went wild.
Every performer has at least one moment to shine during the show, but ultimately it’s the way the gel as a cohesive that makes ‘Forever Young’ work.
Nothing gets an audience going as much as a when it looks like their entertainers are actually enjoying what they’re doing, as well as each other’s company, and ‘Forever Young’ contains that in spades.

* Visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za for more information, and to book.