By Stan Higgins
DIRECTOR Chris Charnley has weaved some real musical magic in Reps Theatre’s second production for 2006, Do U Wanna Rock? He has assembled a superb cast of 31 people for this show and together they take audiences on a fun journey to revisit rock cl
assics of yesteryear and more recent times, giving everyone a reason to clap and sing along, as well as dance in the aisles.
The show features almost 30 songs in two acts, presented with passion and exuberance by the seven-member band, 10 singers and 14 dancers. Many of the songs are indeed rock classics that everyone will know — from Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town and Van Halen’s Jump to Cher’s Believe and Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark.
Other songs will be better known only to younger members of the audiences.
The singing team is a mix of known and unknown: the delightful husband and wife team of David Smith and Ellena Kufusa Smith; Reps veteran Roy Freestone; Rosie Osborne, daughter of the popular singing duo Rob and Ellie; 5Star boy band members Josh Ansley and Alex Fairlie; new faces Rowland Amm, Samantha Tirivacho and Katrin Stutz (the latter being the daughter of the Swiss Ambassador); and the welcome return of Storm Evershed, who made her debut in last year’s Broadway Hits and Musical Bits, to much acclaim (and a nomination in the 2005 African Distillers Awards of Excellence).
They all charm and entertain, but I must say how much of a real pleasure it is to see David and Ellena onstage — by themselves or together.
They are surely rapidly becoming claimants to the title “Top Zimbabwean Duo” and their talent, enthusiasm, professionalism and sense of showmanship make for stunning performances. Josh Ansley, too, has a superb turn in this show, refining the talents we saw last year in Boy Band Blockbusters and Godspell. He sings Let Me Entertain You superbly and we are all very much entertained by his and his colleagues’ performances.
The band is an assembled performance team and they work so well together it is hard to believe they are not full-time partners in musical ventures of all kinds. The dancers are an excellent touch and June Cloete has worked hard to give them a very workable complementary role to the singers and band. Do U wanna Rock opened at Reps on Tuesday and closes tomorrow night. Bookings at the Spotlight.
By Stan Higgins