Adriaan Roets
4 minute read
3 Feb 2020
1:38 pm

Don’t miss the Simon and Garfunkel tribute show ‘Here’s To You’

Adriaan Roets

The production succeeds in showcasing the best talents that SA has to offer, says the producer.

'Here’s To You'. Picture: Picture: Christiaan Kotze

The duo of Jaco van Rensburg and Wessel Odendaal from VR Theatrical has really been playing a plum part in bringing the music of years before to the stage in modernity.

Last year they introduced audiences to shows featuring the music of Simon and Garfunkel and bands like The Four Freshman, The Hi-Lo’s and The Crew Cuts in the musical Forever Plaid.

But it seems it’s the music from Simon and Garfunkel that really resonated here. In 2020 their show Here’s To You is doing a national tour that includes Sasolburg, Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Van Rensburg and Odendaal answered a few questions about the show in 2020.

Picture: Christiaan Kotze

You’re now taking the show to new cities. Was the response last year that positive?

Odendaal: It was clear that the music resonated. The further the run went last year, the quicker word of mouth spread due to the popularity of the songs and backed by the incredible talent of the all-South African cast on stage.

We received standing ovations almost every evening. Paul Simon’s SA connection with the Graceland album also brings up lots of nostalgia.

Van Rensburg: There is something really special about the show in that it is so much more than just another tribute show. If I had to describe the production in one word, it would be “uplifting”.

In a time where our country is faced with so many challenges, this production aims not only to celebrate the positive, but succeeds in showcasing the best talents that South Africa has to offer – our amazing blend of unique and diverse artists that can hold their own on any stage in the world.

Picture: Christiaan Kotze

Why do you think jukebox-styled shows resonate with audiences?

Odendaal: Audiences resonate with music that they are familiar with, that captures a childhood memory, or a defining moment in their lives. That is the role that music plays in society – we make special connections with songs. And to see those songs come to life on stage is an experience like none other.

Van Rensburg: We like what we know. However, in terms of theatre, South Africa really has seen it all – and more than once in most cases. Here’s To You offers audiences familiar music, packaged in a brand new production that has not been seen on stage twice or three times before.

Was the audition process any different finding a cast than let’s say casting a regular musical?

Odendaal: Yes! The audition process was unique in that actors were required to sing and proficiently play one or numerous musical instruments. These unique requirements ensured that our cast comprised of highly skilled, multi-instrumentalists.

Unlike the casting process for traditional musical theatre productions, we auditioned for talented individuals first and then created the show and musical arrangements to showcase their unique abilities. We feature cello, violin, piano, guitars, bass, flutes and various percussion in the show.

Picture: Christiaan Kotze

Why is it important to keep certain types of music, like this catalogue alive?

Van Rensburg: I don’t believe that we are attempting to keep Simon and Garfunkel’s music alive at all. It seems to be alive and well and resonating with audiences in every corner of our country. The mere fact that audiences came flocking to see the show is a testament to great songwriting. The songs are universal and timeless.

Simon has a unique way of writing lyrics and music that makes each audience member in a crowd of thousands feel like he is speaking only to you – about your specific circumstances – and this make us feel less alone. Like all the great works of art these songs touch on our own vulnerabilities, our triumphs and our humanity.

Picture: Christiaan Kotze

Info

Here’s To You is in Johannesburg until 8 March at the Pieter Toerien Montecasino Theatre.

The show is in Sasolburg at the Etienne Rousseau Theatre from 12 to 14 March.

The show is in Durban from 19 to 29 March at the The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The show is in Cape Town from 3 to 25 April at Theatre on the Bay

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