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THE GRAND OPENING. Three-act musical written and directed by June Wells. Musical director Victor Tichart. Choreography Keenan Oliphant. Lighting TechX. Sound Glyn Fogell. Presented by Pinelands Players at Pinelands Town Hall. On Thursday and Friday at 7.30pm. SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews.
THE end of each year is justifiably called the festive season. It’s a time when family and friends gather, on any pretext, to celebrate the close of one year and to herald another. Businesses and societies of all varieties enjoy tapping into this pleasant practice and Pinelands Players are no exception.
June Wells has assembled a group of nine to sing and dance her musical The Grand Opening. It is Pinelands Players’ annual Christmas supper/theatre production, and her cast, while neither great singers nor dancers, presented themselves with spirited enthusiasm.
Pinelands Town Hall is ideal for this type of intimate entertainment. At floor level, 10 attractively decorated tables comfortably accommodate 10 diners at each. And if on stage the full company looked cramped while rocking and rolling in Shake, Rattle ’n’ Roll and prancing around in Granma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, it didn’t seem to matter. Their vitality was enough.
Between the second and third acts, piping hot vegetable spring rolls, chicken chow mein and a Christmas dessert were served, preventing any distracting munching as performers performed.
An amusing scene was Mac’s (Chris Laurie) act as a ham-fisted magician whose tricks didn’t work. Another giggle was Bosom Buddies by arch-rivals Maria (Tanya March) and Simone (Erika Marais). As well as Stan’s (Greg Tinney) deliberately off-key Happy Birthday. Patricia’s (Chenara Fenton) rendition of the Smash hit Secondhand White Baby Grand was sung with all the soul required from this ballad. And Elizabeth Stevenson’s Brittany proved pre-teens still take an interest in stage work.
Wells has become noted for guiding Pinelands Players through several satisfactory shows. Unfortunately this time round she’s less successful.
While it is important that writing talent gains opportunities for public exposure, it is rarely wise to write and direct your own script, as Wells did here. Bringing in a co-director could have tweaked the humour and tightened the action. More use could also have been made of the highly capable band led by Victor Tichart (piano), Schalk Wasserman (percussion) and Johann Botha (double bass). However, the show offers a lively bunch willing to entertain dining guests.
l Tickets are R120 and include dinner. To book, call 072 923 1035.