Why not don your old school uniform and see ‘Back 2 School Boogie’ in the Artscape Opera House from December 4 to 6? The show promises wholesome entertainment, from 1970s power ballads to disco grooves of the 80s and 90s.
The Next 48hOURS spoke to the leading ladies, CAN SKYLARK and LUCY TOPS about what audiences can expect.
Tell us a bit about your background as a musician/singer?
SKYLARK: I do not have any formal musical training. Singing is innate for me. I started singing in church, then advanced to doing high school plays and musicals, then moved on to doing tribute shows, and later recorded my first solo album, ‘Pure’.
TOPS: I studied musical theatre at the Waterfront Theatre School. I have been working professionally in the industry for almost ten years now with shows like my one-woman cabaret called ‘Absolucy’ and ‘Bar None’ (for which I was nominated for a Fleur du Cap). And one of my highlights was performing in the Fugard Theatre’s ‘The Rocky Horror Show’.
Tell us more about ‘Back 2 School Boogie’. Who is in the cast? What can we expect?
SKYLARK: The show truly encapsulates the essence of memory lane. The cast is made up of some of Cape Town’s finest singers and musicians like Lucy, Jon-E, who is also no novice to the stage and radio, and of course Gary Naidoo, a master at capturing the undivided attention of an audience. There is a dynamic musical directing package comprising of Denzil M Thorne, JP Crouch and JJ Petersen.
TOPS: I was so chuffed to be invited back again (after last year’s showcase at the CTICC), as it’s always an enjoyable experience. I get the opportunity to work with some fantastic musicians and vocalists, as Can mentioned.
What songs are you covering and which are your favourites?
SKYLARK: Choosing a favourite is really difficult, but gun to my head I would have to say the opening song, Shalamar’s ‘A Night to Remember’. I do many others in the show, like Sybil’s ‘The Love I Lost’ and Cilla Black’s ‘You’re My World’. I am also performing one of my very own number one singles, ‘Everything is cool’ off my second album ‘Overdrive’.
TOPS: I am covering songs like ‘I Never Knew Love Like This Before’ and ‘To Sir, With Love’, Diana Ross’s ‘My Old Piano’ and Shirley Bassey’s ‘This Is My Life’, to name a few. I love singing Lulu’s ‘To Sir, With Love’.
Other than preparing for the show, what are you busy with currently?
SKYLARK: I am in studio recording my third album, and conceptualising another music video and planning a few local tours.
TOPS: I am also preparing for a show called ‘Bon Soir’ that opens at the Kalk Bay Theatre on December 15. It’s a variety show featuring some amazing dancers and specialised acts.
You both have hits out on local radio stations. Tell us more about how the music industry is treating you?
SKYLARK: The industry is extremely tough to track. It requires immense tenacity and constant drive. But I’d be lying if I said that it was all bad though. I have had some amazing responses from radio as well as the public and I am deeply grateful and appreciate that my creative contribution to our society is being accepted and enjoyed.
TOPS: It’s a tough career. I do love live theatre and freelancing gives me the opportunity to do a variety of things, in my own way and time. The music industry is very much about image and branding, I find it hard to follow the mainstream idea of what it means to be a vocalist. I don’t want people to care about how I look, I want them to listen to my voice, my lyrics and enjoy my music.
Is South Africa a supportive nation when it comes to music and the arts? What has been your experience?
SKYLARK: In many respects the support base for tribute music is very obvious. SA loves familiarity, but independent, original music struggles. We as indie artists are striving towards a more open-minded awareness of new creative waves and we need the backing of the public.
TOPS: Radio stations play 70% international music and 30% local music. Some of the stations don’t play my music or even respond to me, but the ones that do, have been wonderfully supportive, as have their listeners, and I am thankful for that.
You both have been in these ‘boogie-themed’ shows before at the CTICC and they are very well supported and well received. What makes these shows so popular?
SKYLARK: Cape Town loves “The good old days”. These shows provide a little window into the past. It rekindles the memories and the flames of what was. They are also affordable and reach a broad spectrum of people, young and old alike.
TOPS: There is always the element of comedy and wonderful showmanship. Gary Naidoo is one of the funniest people I know. After seeing a show like this you go home and dig out some old records that will keep you dancing long after watching the show.
* Tickets are R125 and can be booked at Computicket.