Strictly No 1s
DIRECTOR: Duck Chowles
CAST: Jonathan Taylor, Lee Paver, Marvin Nethononda, Josh Ansley, Jae Gree, Caelee Vercueil
VENUE: The Barnyard Theatre, Gateway
UNTIL: January 5
RATING: ****


THE show Strictly No 1s has an energetic cast take the audience on a journey through 60 years of Billboard 100 No 1 hits.

Director Duck Chowles has done an excellent job of compiling a playlist that caters for all musical tastes and is packed with interesting facts about the hit songs ranging from 1953 to 2013.

Chowles has separated the playlist into interesting groups, for example Elvis Presley No 1s, oldest male and female singers to make No 1, duets that reached No 1, blonde girls’ No 1s, ballad No 1s and more.

His casting of Jonathan Taylor (Isidingo, 7de Laan, Egoli, 4-play/Sex Tips For Girls, Rhythm City) was also good, as he gives a standout performance.

As host, Taylor narrates the journey through the years of hits. Ensuring that the show is not a plain historical account of No 1 hits, Taylor flips in and out of character – from an American host to a Springbok radio presenter to an Austrian rock star and more.

His dialogue is loaded with wit and one-liners that keep the audience in hysterics and set the tone for this easy-going show.

In between he throws out a few interesting facts – for example, in 1962 Louis Armstrong became the oldest recording artist to reach No 1, with Hello Dolly, and in 1999 Cher became the oldest female artist to reach the same position, with the hit song Believe.

Taylor also has a few tricks up his sleeve in song, including rapping in Austrian and an interesting take on an American classic – which I won’t name so that you can hear it for yourself.

Featuring an 11-member cast, the show runs through hits from the likes of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to iconic rock stars like Bruce Springsteen and the latest pop sensations Black Eyed Peas, Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and not forgetting icons like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Whitney Houston and more.

Taylor is backed up on vocals by Lee Paver, Marvin Nethononda (pictured), Josh Ansley, Jae Green and Caelee Vercueil.

Kudos to the cast for a highly energetic performance. The choreography (Ramaine Barreiro-Lloyd) is fast-paced and suited to each era and the cast do well to keep up with all the steps and still stay in tune.

Nethononda is a highlight on vocals and with his different characters. Whatever song he performs, he gets under the skin of the character. Good examples are his Stevie Wonder and Louis Armstrong songs. But his voice is what will have you in awe.

I can see Ansley, originally from Zimbabwe, featuring in a lot more Barnyard shows in future. After his performance in this show, I’m sure he’ll be invited back for more. This young man has a unique texture to his voice that puts him in another league as he belts out tunes like Eye of the Tiger and All for Love.

Ansley proves himself a versatile singer with excellent performances across genres –whether it’s Billie Holiday, Santana’s Smooth, or even American rap star Jay-Z, Ansley delivers.

On female vocals Green and Vercueil put in good performances, but for this show the guys rule.

The band comprises Calli Thomson (keyboards), Jethro Strange (guitar), Mark Freel (bass guitar) and the Dylan van der Linde (drums).

Strange deserves special mention for standout performances in Rock Around the Clock, Eye of the Tiger, All for Love and Smooth – these kinds of songs require some major guitar skills and Strange proves that he’s the man.


• Tickets range from R150 from Wednesday to Saturday, with discounted specials of R115 every Tuesday night and R100 for the Sunday matinee. There is a price difference for the New Year’s Eve show, which includes a count- down and open dance floor after the show. To accommodate festive season revelry, additional matinees (starting at 1.30pm) have been added.

The Barnyard will also still be staging its popular Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve shows, as well as an additional show on Monday, December 30. For bookings and enquiries, call 031 566 3045.