'S Marvelous' 35-song extravaganza

Arts Correspondent

BOOKINGS have opened for musical revue Showtime 2014: 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvellous that will run at Port Elizabeth's Savoy Theatre from Friday January 24 to Saturday February 1.

Bookings for the popular production, now in its 24th year, opened yesterday at Computicket outlets, including at the PE Opera House.

For the first three performances – a fundraising premiere on Friday, a matinee for underprivileged children next Saturday and the Showtime junior awards evening – also on Saturday January 25 – seating will be theatre-style.

Then, from Monday January 27 to Saturday February 1 – including the main awards night on Friday January 31 – the format will see patrons seated at tables.

At all evening shows, apart from the two awards galas, when the show will start at 7pm, and the matinee at 2.30pm, the curtain will rise at 7.30pm, with the revue running for about two hours. In the main week, however, the venue will open 45 minutes before curtain-up so patrons may picnic before the show.

Once again devised, written and produced by Bob Eveleigh, 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvellous salutes the brilliant songbook created by composer George Gershwin and his lyricist brother Ira in song, comedy and dance.

It features a core cast of six talented youngsters and two guest stars (all aged 15 to 22) plus a supporting dance troupe from the studio of choreographer Tanya Tait, assisted with the dance staging by past Showtime cast member Jeannine Adams.

The core cast – The Gershwin Youngstars – consists of returning Showtimers Cristin Davis and Peter Lee Ching, along with newcomers Khanya Mda, Sharné Williams, Christopher Billson and Sikholiwe Gaika.

The pair of guest Gershwin Youngstars are Candice Millar and James Smith, who both impressed in the 2013 Showtime revue: Travelling Light.

Musical and vocal direction are by Wayne Hughes, who directed the very first Showtime revue: From the West Side to the West End, in 1991.

Assisting as production consultants are Laura Croft and Vanessa Grebe.

Costuming is by Dorothy Billson and Brenda Ower, while the stage setting will be enhanced by draping by Angelic Wonders and furniture from Aberdeens. The technical side will benefit from the input of the experienced Rocky Mann, president of the PE Shakespearean Festival, and those two "sound" fellows, Neil Thomson and Brendon Samuels, all under the control of stage manager Wiebke Langner.

The scintillating 35-song score includes such fine Gershwin ballads as Someone to Watch Over Me, They Can't Take That Away From Me and 'S Wonderful, plus such breezy up-tempo standards as Strike Up the Band, I Got Rhythm and Let's Call the Whole Thing Off.

The bright, pacy show will be given, in costuming and setting, an elegant look in keeping with the 1930s, when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers held sway in movies and on Broadway and when many of the 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvellous songs were written.

But there would also be the usual Showtime comedy surprises, Eveleigh indicated.

With no less than three gala fundraisers – by the Echo Foundation, St John's Church and St Mary's Cathedral, plus one "groups" block booking evening – public musical theatre devotees may only book for the two awards nights and the matinee on January 25 or the three performances on January 27, 28 and 30.

Patrons at performances where there is table seating may bring along picnic hampers but, as the theatre is fully licensed, all drinks brought from outside the premises will be subject to a corkage fee.

Public tickets are R70 for all seats at the two awards nights and R70 for adults and R50 for senior citizens, students and children at the three available evenings and matinee.

Vouchers are obtainable from company members at reduced prices.