Luscious ‘Show Boat’ satisfies on numerous levels

Luscious ‘Show Boat’ satisfies on numerous levels

SHOW: Show Boat
Director: Janice Honeyman
Cast: Magdalene Minnaar, Blake Fischer, Xoleba Sixaba, Lynelle Kenned, Graham Hopkins, Anthea Thompson, Nobuntu Mpanlaza, Catherine Daymond, Brandon Lindsay, Stephen Jubber, Caitlin Clerk, Graham Clarke and Adrian Galley
VENUE: Artscape Opera House between May 16 and 18
REVIEW: PETER TROMP

‘Show Boat’, the musical – staged by Cape Town Opera last week at the Artscape Opera House – was simply a marvellous display of some of our best character actors. We don’t often get to see the likes of Graham Hopkins and Anthea Thompson singing and dancing in high gloss musical productions, yet ‘Show Boat’ presented both with the opportunity to do just that – and they were both marvellous, along with most of the rest of the cast. The two really got to do what they do best – delve into interesting, memorable characters and carve out something indelible.

Janice Honeyman’s production really gets one invested in the characters, which ‘Showboat’ has plenty of. The director has shown with countless theatrical productions over the years what a knack she has with character dramas, but that doesn’t mean that she slouches in the musical department here. This is a spectacular after all, and her staging for practically every one of the big songs is thrillingly executed. As is her custom, she gets wonderful performances out of almost every actor, including opera regulars like the marvellous Xolela Sixaba, who I don’t think is trained professionally as an actor.

Special mention needs to be made of Mannie Manim’s lighting. The theatre veteran bathes the production in a luscious glow throughout, giving proceedings the glamorous sheen of a classic Technicolor Hollywood film. The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra also deserves special praise for their impeccable orchestration.
It’s really a shame that ‘Show Boat’ only played here for a weekend. It is thoroughly deserving of a much longer run. The production is headed to the UK where those Europeans will get to enjoy it for many an evening, and I’ve got little doubt that they will be completely enthralled, just as the Saturday night audience I attended the production with was. Hopefully we’ll get to see this special show return sometime soon for a longer run.

* For more information on ‘Show Boat’s’ international tour and Cape Town Opera’s 2014 season, visit www.ctoshowboat.com and www.capetownopera.co.za respectively.