CAT Simoni’s name has been popping up all over the place and when I saw that she was performing in Pretoria, I went to check her out.
She’s a bit of a throwback to another era and had been out of town for quite some time. Born and bred in KwaZulu-Natal, she’s based here, but she and performing partner, actor, writer and director Paul Spence, travel mainly between the Midlands and Gauteng.
Both spent many years in England – specifically London for Simoni (pictured) – who is the one who wants to sing passionately. She would have loved to have been part of the music scene, but instead she became more of a lounge singer in hotels like The Ritz, Dorchester and Mayfair and private parties for the famous and those not so well known.
With three small children to care for, she decided it was time to come home where there’s more of a support system.
Now that the kids aren’t quite such a handful any more, she and Spence have decided to hit the road and find a niche.
And they probably will.
Their show In Love Again, Noël & Gertie: An evening with Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence presents music and a time that suits Simoni’s voice… it’s probably the style Simoni is best at, although she can pretty much launch into any song – from Queen to Johnny Clegg, the great songwriters (Porter, Rogers, Gershwin and Kern), pop megahits from the 1950s to now (Adele, The Eagles) and the very best of South African music.
She does most of her own accompaniment, which is always a bonus because in many instances nothing detracts as much as back-tracks.
But having watched From Broadway to Westend, I was most impressed with Simoni’s stage power.
She has a beautiful voice, can hit those keys, and is sweetly supported by Paul Spence, but I suspect personal favourites would be her more jazzy shows and the Noël and Gertie homage.
Following a successful dinner theatre appearance in December in Durban, Simoni returns to The Oyster Box on May 29, with A Tribute to Barbra Streisand.
• The show starts at 7pm. Tickets are R350 per person (including dinner). For more info and to book call 031 514 5000.