Smooth, quirky Tops steals the show at Kalk Bay Theatre

Smooth, quirky Tops steals the show at Kalk Bay Theatre

SHOW: Stealing the Show: Bette Midler
DIRECTOR: Garth Tavaras
CAST: Lucy Tops & Garth Tavaras
VENUE: Kalk Bay Theatre until November 16
REVIEW: Rafiek Mammon

If you’re still wondering if “love is a razor that leaves the soul to bleed” or “a hunger, an endless aching need”; or whether it is indeed “a flower and you its only seed”, then look no further than the Kalk Bay Theatre.
Lucy Tops makes it quite clear in this often quirky, very velvety, definitely romantic and indubitably sexy ‘Stealing the Show: Bette Midler’ that she is Tops doing Midler.
She is not trying to be Bette Midler…she is merely a local artist paying homage to another’s illustrious career. And she does this with absolute aplomb.
The show is raw, stripped down to a singer, a few tales and quips, and a piano player. Throw in an audience member or three and voila: ‘Stealing the Show: Bette Midler’ is served. And, as the new-age adage goes, less is more. It works for this show. Tops effortlessly meanders from parody to pathos while wooing her audience with her very agreeable stage presence and controlled vocals that are very pleasing to the ear.

It made me think: often we expect of shows with music to have bells and whistles (with a hint of a cherry on top somewhere). Do these said trimmings not perhaps mask the mediocrity of productions? Here, Tops is expected to deliver with very little to aid her: no lavish sets (in fact there is no set at all) and I think I may have counted about three props, and a hideous polka dot backdrop. Yet, none of these detracts from the experience: a class act.

Perennial favourites like ‘Miss Otis Regrets’, ‘Under the Boardwalk’, ‘Wind Beneath My wings’ and ‘From a Distance’, among other evergreens, are given a good working over – with just piano accompaniment, played by Garth Tavaras who also adds a vocal or jeer here and there. Tavaras also directed the show.
Jon Keevy has kept the script short and concise, yet fresh and accessible. After all, if it is about ‘Stealing the Show’ and about Bette Midler, I would imagine it could go one of two ways: either wholly OTT (Over The Top) or very au-natural. I am happy he chose the latter. Again, it works in the venue and it undoubtedly works for the performers. The show is relaxed in places and intense in others, but it has a consistent honesty that one can truly appreciate.
Make no mistake: this is no ride on the Cobra at Ratanga Junction, and thank goodness for that. Who wants to feel as though one is in one prolonged car accident, being jabbed and tugged at for minutes? Methinks it wiser to make your way to the Kalk Bay Theatre to see ‘Stealing the Show: Bette Midler’. At least this roller coaster ride is one that gives you just enough of an anticipation and an up-and-down, to enjoy the ride and exit wanting more…

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