Dancing Queen My Life | My Reviews 05 AUG 2008

Agnetha FaltskogThe last time I was at the fantastic Barnyard Theatre situated in Willowbridge Mall, Durbanville, was way back in July last year, so you can understand my excitement at the prospect of returning to that great venue this past Saturday evening. It’s just too bad that the reason for returning was none other than a tribute to ABBA and Queen concert, two bands which I truthfully hold no love nor nostalgia for (apart from a miserly handful of songs – like the Highlander series theme tune – which of course sadly did not feature in the lineup).

However, in the quest to be fair, I hereby offer my objective, free from all possible negative thoughts that I might unconsciously be emanating, review of the show: Simply put, it was great. Really, really great (and this pains me so. Saying good things about ABBA comes with great difficulty to me) .

Dancing Queen: A Tribute to ABBA, Queen and the 70’s and 80’s pays homage to admittedly two of the biggest and most influential names in the pop and rock genres, namely Swedish foursome ABBA and British-based Queen, as well as to the period in which glitz, glam and some of the greatest radio tunes were actually written. The show covers both groups’ greatest hits and then takes it a step further by combining the two to leave you with what can only be described as a musical extravaganza!

The show is currently enjoying a highly popular and limited run (it finishes up on the 17 August), meaning that we had to book our tickets literally months ago already. The original plan had been for Chantelle and me to join up with Monty, Cheryl, Mom, Pops, Claire and Riley, but an unfortunate scheduling clash led to Claire and Riley relinquishing their tickets which were then picked up by Daphne and Andre (Mom and Pop’s friends).

So on Saturday evening just after 19:30 with platters of food already in hand and quick trip to the bar to buy overpriced wine, the eight of us settled down in our surprisingly good seats that saw us seated on the upper tier of the venue, directly in front of the stage which gave us the perfect viewpoint from which to survey the evening’s proceedings. It wasn’t a long wait as the theatre quickly became full, packed to capacity, and the lights dimmed to reveal a starry stage and some unusually dressed in white chaps sitting ready behind a piano and a guitar.

And then it happened. Two particularly good looking women in signature furry white ABBA outfits burst onto stage and we were instantly transported back to 1973 when ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo.

Naturally the slightly older crowd (and Chantelle) went wild as the foursome backed by some talented guys on lead guitar, bass guitar and drums started belting out veritable ABBA hit after hit, driving us back with an explosion of fluffy pop beats and lyrics that saw me drive my head into my hands in despair and the rest of the crowd start swinging their glow sticks about wildly in the air.

Luckily the initial ABBA assault didn’t last too long as the lights once again dimmed and next out on stage were three good looking guys rocking out to some of the older Queen material, which funnily enough not that many of the people instantly recognized. Again, we only got a handful of songs (which were far more enjoyable to me than the ABBA stuff) before the switcheroo happened once again and we got some more ABBA from the ladies (all in completely new outfits again) .

And so the night unfolded. Hit song after hit song, constantly switching between ABBA and Queen, an insane amount of costume changes, an extremely versatile band of musicians which saw almost everyone on stage take the lead on a song, lots of props and even some musical comedy to boot as well!

The music performed moved in pretty much a chronological order, meaning we got to hear almost all the big ABBA hits, including songs like Waterloo, Ring, Ring, SOS, Does your mother know, Thank you for the music, Knowing me Knowing you, Mamma Mia, Money, Money, Take a chance on me, I have a dream and Voulez Vous.

Similarly on the Queen side of the spectrum the crowd got to enjoy hits like Killer Queen, Somebody to love, We are the Champions, Don’t stop me now, Death on two legs, You’re my best friend, Love of my life, It’s a kind of Magic, Radio Ga Ga, The Show Must Go On, Another one bites the dust, Who wants to live forever and of course, Bohemian Rhapsody.

The eleven piece cast consisting of James Dobson on piano and keyboards, Adrian Beecham on guitar and vocals, Jason Guile on guitar and vocals, Adrian Poulsen, Darren Vercuile and Rene’ Kruger on male vocals, Cherise Roberts and Monique Steyn on female vocals, Juan Smit on drums and Donovan Thatcher on bass guitar can all only be described as extremely polished and competent performers and they managed to entertain and hold the crowd’s attention for the entire duration of the show (which is almost a good 3 hours long!).

So in summary, despite the fact that I don’t like the music (well mainly ABBA’s stuff anyway), the show itself was spectacular and an absolute masterpiece in terms of its production, quality and performances, and judging by the crowd’s response, you’ll be a fool to miss this musical spectacle of the year. Thoroughly worth the entrance price and definitely something you should make an effort to go and see – particularly if you are a fan of the 70’s and 80’s music revolution!

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Related Link: http://www.barnyardtheatre.co.za/spage.php?theatre_id=5

About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.