It’s an interesting tale that led me to The NewSpace Theatre last night, for the first time since its opening. And it was all very nice, thank you very much. I was delighted with the theatre and the little restaurants and things downstairs; it’s glossy, trendy and very Long Street glam. As we went up the stairs and into the theatre, Big Friendly jokingly pointed out that my picture ‘was not at the box office’, although, box office it isn’t exactly; more like box wall space.
We were there for the opening of Killer Queen, a semi a cappella, musical, boy band tribute to Queen. How this weird choice got me to The NewSpace Theatre is the fact that my gorgeous sister in-law Gina Shmukler directed it. And nobody was as surprised as me by how much I enjoyed the show!
I was more than a bit nervous. I hate tribute shows. But this one is really a goodie. It honours the material and is creative and fun. Secondly, I can’t stand attempts at covering Queen; nobody has the range and power of Freddie Mercury; yet these Overtone guys do pull it off. It was really like that for me all the way through; thinking oh no not that, and then completely loving it.
Overtone are a collection of the geekiest, oddest young Afrikaans fellas, all with the most gorgeous voices. They are a tight little outfit and they sing together like a dream. It’s not fair to single any of them out; they are all really cute and great, from the funky beat box rhythm maker, to the gawky, rangy base all the way to through to the chunky tenor.
The first half of the show is a cappella, allowing the boys’ skill to shine through. The arrangements are good, and creative, and this part of the show is incredibly well paced, moving form slow to fast, heavy to light in a breath. and milking the material. Later on, (I confess I was a bit disappointed initially) the piano joined in from somewhere at the back, and then the whole band was revealed. I thought, ag no man, why change from pure a cappella? But I ended up loving the stuff they did with the band. Very, very Queen like. then the teeniest little most gorgeous opera singer joined them (I think it was Loveline Madumo) for two big operatic numbers. When she came on I was, ag no man, not opera, but by the end of Barcelona I was weeping.
I have one or two teeny nit picks, and the first one is about the choreography. These guys are not dancers. Not at all. It’s not that they don’t manage the boy band style choreography, it’s just that they look very silly doing it. It only really works when they do those very fast, hilarious, teeny, running, jumping steps, but then (I hope) they are totally sending themselves up. A lot of the other, more serious, fist making, wide legged posing is a bit hard to take seriously; especially since the guys are the most geeky noo-noos and only two of them have proper good rhythm.
The second thing is a little sound thing. And it’s a typical demand of musos who don’t have theatre experience. The minute the band starts playing, everything gets louder, and louder, and louder. What should be happening is that everything should pull back slightly, because you have more sound coming off the stage and at you.
All in all though, I was surprised and delighted. Well done to all. If hand waving, love your favourite, tribute shows are your thing, this is the best of the bunch.
So that was the show, but I wanted to put down some thoughts about the theatre itself and the choice of material for the space. The question remains; do we need another theatrical venue for reviews? I was surprised to see the whole team of On Broadway at the show last night and I’m wondering how they must feel. Their venue, literally only a few blocks away, specialises in this type of review show. In fact, from what I hear, a Queen/Freddie Mercury review opens there a week after this one ends. No doubt, after the dismal attendance of the opening production of Assassins, it was understood that something more crowd pleasing needed to be on offer at The NewSpace, but surely two review venues are going to be competing for an ever dwindling theatre audience. There were high hopes for The NewSpace Theatre, particularly considering its history as The Space, and I am not convinced that it should become another smaller, fancier Barnyard. But, you know me. I believe in bums on seats. We will know the success by the number of tickets sold.