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It Rox, if you are a G&S fan

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TO JONATHAN - MABEL

TOPSY TURVY

DIRECTOR: Alan Swerdlow

CAST: Jonathan Roxmouth

VENUE: Theatre On The Bay, Camps Bay

UNTIL: June 30

RATING: ***

“Hi, my name is Jonathan and I’m a Gilbert and Sullivan addict.” Jonathan Roxmouth comes clean to an audience that already knows of his addiction. Luckily for them, they suffer the same affliction.

But no one returns the greeting with a “Hi, Jonathan.” Instead, Roxmouth does all the talking and singing as he becomes a one-man powerhouse who takes the audience through the tales behind the songs penned by two of the most well-known songwriters in history.

He gives modern twists (including his and Swerdlow’s re-jigs here and there) to songs that first came to life in the 1800s, or at least as modern a twist as one can give to a Theatre on the Bay audience.

Roxmouth broke up the scenes into songs that carried the same theme: “Songs of Introduction or,” he winked, “They all Look the Same to Me.”

Some of the grey-haired men (and one extremely eager guy who gave his two cents a little too loudly) clapped enthusiastically whenever Roxmouth wore an judge’s gown from way back, a pirate hat, or made himself comfortable in any song than harked back to an era long gone.

I did notice, however, that a mature woman in front of me hardly laughed for most of the show’s first half.

She and the man next to her were of the very few people to put up their hands when Roxmouth requested to see, by a show of hands, who was a fan of the Victorian-era librettist WS Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan.

Perhaps she was also irritated by the way the mic would throw Roxmouth’s voice when he sang into his chest. Or maybe it was how some of the words were hard to make out as the man who is obviously no stranger to the world of musical theatre (Phantom of the Opera and Hats Off come to mind) sang everything so darn fast.

For people who aren’t fans of the musical tag team that is G&S, it would be hard to be won over by a series of songs that could stand to be slowed down to be understood.

It’s with this in mind and the fact that Roxmouth is a huge fan of long solos at the end of each song that I chose to not attend the second act of the show, having sat through a long first half.

It’s clear Roxmouth definitely can sing, but this show is tailored towards a specific audience.

One that likes to reminisce while hearing new takes on old work. He jokes about Danny K knowing how to pick a father-in-law and even takes a jab at polygamy and showerheads.

What’s great is that he has good comic timing. Like when he is thrown a curve ball in the audience participation part of the show where he brought up on stage an extremely amped oupa to follow some basic choreography.

Roxmouth said this impromptu part of the show was “the equivalent of (Beyoncé’s) Single Ladies”. Those unrehearsed moments were cool.


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