Sunday, August 28, 2011


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A collection by Neal McKenna 

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After six years, Offbeat Broadway is back - just older, slower and fatter! This insane and irreverent romp through the best and worst of Broadway returns with the original cast of Anton Luitingh, Lindy Abromowitz and Paul du Toit. That most infamous of genres, musical theatre, once again gets lampooned with their wicked harmonies and irreverent sense of humour. And what they to The Phantom of the Opera, my least favourite musical, truly gladdens my heart. 
Their last three seasons garnered a string of award nominatons, packed houses and rave reviews. Directed by Alan Committie, the show is crammed with perennial favourites from musicals like Les Miserables, Cats and Miss Saigon and brand new material from musicals like Wicked, Billy Elliott and Hairspray.
The last few years have seen these three enduring the multiple horrors of parenthood, selling their souls to soap opera and re-hashing musicals from the Pacific’s rim to Qatar’s crotch. 
Audiences who remember being wowed by their fresh, funky take on musical theatre and invigorated by their bright-eyed energy can now look forward to being overwhelmed by their cynicism and perplexed by their disillusion. 
Offbeat Broadway showcases the talents of three very gifted performers who sing amazingly well and have excellent comic timing. Anton Luitingh is the hard-working piano man who does triple duty by also performing as funny guy and singer. He literally sweats his way through the show. Lindy Abromowitz adds the glam and the glitz, running through the character gamut from vamp to frump. Paul du Toit, who is also the writer of the show, isn't afraid to show off his feminine side and does a convincing representation of a camp queen. What's more, this guy can really sing!
Offbeat Broadway 4
Over all, Offbeat Broadway is very, very good. The show sags a wee bit in the second half and one or two intended zingers fell flat - with an almost audible thud. Still, the political commentary is as fresh as today's news and the mashed-up music from a bazillion musical theatre productions - with biting, new lyrics - is a treat. The show's finale, Les Miserables, is hilarious with the three cast members taking on ten characters each, to tell the story. By the end, the audience is as exhausted as the performers. 
The evening's one glaring detraction had nothing to to with the show but the venue. Montecasiono's Studio Theatre is in dire need of refurbishing. It is cramped, improperly ventilated and the seats seem to have been built for the Spanish Inquisition. They are horribly uncomfortable. Hopefully, Pieter Toerien will quickly spend a little cash to make the casiono's smallest theatre more inviting.
Offbeat Broadway plays at Pieter Toerien's Studio Theatre through September 30, 2011. Just remember to bring a shoehorn for getting in and out of your seats.

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A mongoose, it is...

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