GLORIOUS GIG: Jonathan Roxmouths new show, Stage by Stage, is running in Durban.

Stage By Stage

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Roxmouth

CAST: Jonathan Roxmouth, accompanied by Helen Vermaak on piano

VENUE: The Rhumbelow Theatre

UNTIL: Sunday

RATING: ****

WHEN popular musical theatre practitioner Jonathan Roxmouth opened his new show, Stage by Stage, at the weekend it marked a few “firsts” for the entertainer.

It was the first show in which Roxmouth took to the stage with just his voice – no fancy props, costumes or characters – it was just all about the music.

He also has an accompanist, Helen Vermaak, who shares a great rapport with him.

Holistically the show is very different from what we’re used to seeing of Roxmouth.

He’s also released his first album, by the same name, with the show.

In a preview interview a few weeks ago Roxmouth described Stage by Stage as a “concert of the musicals”, and after watching it, it’s easy to see why.

In Stage by Stage Roxmouth celebrates the musicals, performing songs from shows he’s done, songs he is doing and those that he hasn’t done, but are on his wish list.

However, unlike his popular shows like Topsy Turvy or Liberace, Stage by Stage is laid back in format – also making the Rhumbelow Theatre (which is a very intimate setting) a great choice of venue.

In this show there are no fancy costume changes or elaborate characters; rather, it’s Roxmouth, a stage and a mic.

A performance like this is daring. First, it’s a two-hour show and for one man to try to hold an audience’s attention for two hours is no easy feat. Secondly, it’s a show that celebrates the musicals and with such a broad selection of songs under that umbrella, choosing the right ones will be a challenge.

And lastly, the show is meant to be an intimate one in which the audience gets to know Roxmouth, beyond the performer on stage.

Roxmouth has successfully ensured that he not only entertains his audience well throughout this show with the music element, but also holds their attention mainly through laughter and personal tales of his journey into the world of musical theatre.

He effortlessly has his audience in stitches – literally a laugh a minute – as he recalls his growth into the industry. From endearing stories of his childhood dabbling in entertainment, to hilarious anecdotes about his first “big break” into professional musical theatre and a host of backstage memories. Through this, he gets the audience to learn a different, more intimate side of him.

Now let’s get to the music, beginning with his selection of songs. The great thing about the way Roxmouth has planned this show – breaking it up into songs he’s done, songs he’s doing and songs on his wish list – is that the audience gets a varied taste of music from the musicals.

He performs from the more popular and older songs, to the more modern songs and some you may not even know about.

The great part about this selection – whether you know a song or not – is Roxmouth provides some background information about the songs, particularly the less well-known ones. This helps you, as a member of the audience, appreciate the song with a more enlightened understanding of the story behind the music.

Saving the best for last: Roxmouth’s performance.

In this show we don’t see him perform a particular repertoire of music from a particular artist or era. It’s a very broad range of music and musical styles and throughout Roxmouth holds every key and hits all the right notes.

From I Have Dreamed (The King and I) to the hilarious Have Some Madeira M’Dear (Flanders and Swann) to If I Loved You (Carousel) to Music of the Night (Phantom of the Opera) and more, he has his audience hooked.

It’s a well-known fact that Roxmouth is a talented entertainer, but this show proves his versatility, natural prowess and excellence as a musical theatre performer.

• Bookings through Computicket.