Welcome to Johannesburg – a world-class city! Or so the tourism board insists. I still question this, but tonight I definitely saw some world-class quality in the show “Stage by Stage” put on by none other than South African theatre star, Jonathan Roxmouth.
I must say, I thought is exceedingly odd that I was walking through a Tuscan themed building while looking for South African things, but I came to the conclusion that that was simply part of the charm – a nod from South Africa to Italy to say, “hey, nice place. Can we share in it?”.
Monte Casino (for anyone still wondering) is a great place in the Johannesburg for a little bit of fun. Great place to eat, great entertainment, great shops… and great theatre! The whole place is designed to look like an old Tuscan village – right down to the pigeons on the window sills – and it’s absolutely fantastic for a night out! It was at the Teatro – the main theatre – that The Lion King debuted in South Africa. It was here that I watched Beauty and the Beast and developed a greater love for Disney, Menken and Ashman, and fairytales in general. It was here that I fell in love again with a man in a mask who sings like an angel (of music) and writes operas for beautiful chorus dancers. And it was here that I watched Stage by Stage and was reminded of all the reasons I so love musicals.
Right from the beginning, Jonathan had the audience in the palm of his hand. He restarted the show four times – once for each time a new passel of late-comers walked in – and each time more hilariously than the last. He enthralled with humour, story-telling, and fantastic music. With songs from musicals ranging from Pippin to Jekyll and Hyde to Phantom of the Opera to Les Mis, there was a great variety and many opportunities for the star of the show to show how he became such a star. I was impressed. Very.
now in all honesty, I’ve come to expect this kind of quality at Monte Casino – after all, it’s a major tourist attraction. But doing this tourist challenge I realised tonight that this is another reason to be amazed by this country. I take it for granted, but as a tourist, this is absolutely spectacular. This show that l so thoroughly enjoyed was written and performed by a man born and bred in South Africa. He referenced great South African performers. He used some of our oh-so-descriptive slang. He took us back to memorable Jozi moments. And all of these things were proudly South African.
So here’s to a great man, a great show, and a great country!