Kat And The Kings
Hot on the tail of the Grease revival comes Kat And The Kings, a genre- topping musical with a message.
The story is based on the life of star Salie Davies and takes place in South Africa’s infamous District Six, a cultural melting-pot in a city where apartheid separated whites from coloureds at every opportunity. Until 1966, 60,000 people — Muslims, Jews and an unskilled proletariat of black, white and brown gathered there — and lived together, unsegregated and uninhibited by sectarianism.
Davies plays Kat Diamond, a 19505 teenager with a love for rock ’n’ roll and girls in bobby socks. He forms a vocal harmony group with friends Errol, Bingo and Baillie; and with the help of Errol's sister Lucy they get a recording deal. However, South Africa's racial bigotry soon turns the group's ambitions to dust and shoe-shine.
The story works on several levels, and manages to convey its political message with a subtlety uncommon to the genre. It deserves to succeed for this alone — a mu5ica| production that can overcome the potential embarrassments of narrative songs and make a notoriously difficult audience clap and howl is a rare treat. The cast are all excellent, their voices complementing
Quiff and make-up: Kat And The Kings
each other like those of a barbershop quanet
Davies shimmies and serenades his way through the show with an energy unnatural for one of his years. He narrates from the wings, often joining his even more flexible younger alter-ego (Alastair Isobell) for a groove and a croon. However, it is the vocal strength and energy of Mandisa Bardill as Lucy which truly steals the show — she is the Diana Ross of doo-wop.
Kat And The Kings is a musical that succeeds, even to the most cynical of minds. Expect a quiff revival.
(Nicky Agate) a For tour dates, see page 58.
MUSICAL REVIEW Three Steps To Heaven Touring ~55- wt-
Not fading away: Alan McHugh and Barrie Hunter in Three Steps To Heaven
In DaVid Cosgrove’s musical play, a post—plane-crash Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper find themselves in a purgatorial milk bar, waiting for their cue to pass on to the next life. They while away the time jamming their songs (as you do when you know your number's up) and rifling through their emotional baggage. You might think the whole premise is just an excuse to perform
some early rock 'n'roll standards. And you’d be right.
This diner has a drumkit stowed away in a hidden alcove and its bar folds out into a handy keyboard to accommodate those moments when you're trapped between dimensions and fancy belting out 'Great Balls Of Fire'. That way you can ensure that just when the rudimentary story is getting too cheesy and the acting too amateurishly exaggerated, the cast cut the clichés and run through competent versions of the likes of 'Runaway', ’La Bamba' and ’That’ll Be The Day’.
Alan McHugh — of Scottish Television's High Road, soapwatchers — reprises his portrayal of Buddy Holly, while Barrie Hunter is available for weddings and bar mitzvahs as the Big Bopper, and Keith Warwick transcends the handicap of his fake tan and floppy quiff to play a petulant Richie Valens. The cast of this First Base production is completed by John Keilty and Sheree Miller in the less satisfying roles of Roger the pilot and Stella, the barmaid who helps them deal with getting to the other side.
The music saves Three Steps To Heaven from an otherwise relentless slide into moralising schmaltz. The scene where the musicians examine the jukebox for the music of the future that bears their influence is wrny witty, but otherwise the play is on a collision course with old-fashioned sentiment, albeit no less worthy than any other musical nostalgia show.
(Fiona Shepherd) m For tour dates, see page 58.
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Mirad, A Boy From Bosnia
by Ad De Bont Wed 16 - Sat 19 Sep 7.30pm £4/£2.50 (2 for 1 offer on opening night)
Tue 22 - Sat 26 Sep 7.30pm £6.50/£3.50 (2 for 1 offer on opening night/Apex)
Bleach (Creative Residency)
Fri 25 - Sat 26 Sep 8pm £2/£1
box office 0141 221 4001
10—24 Sep I998 THE LIST 55