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Review: Cape Town Opera - Show Boat @ WMC

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 23/07/2014 at 09:34
0 comments » - Tagged as Comedy, Dance, History, Music, Stage

  • Two performers mid song in Showboat

Cape Town Opera: Show Boat
Wales Millennium Centre
Tuesday 22nd July 2014

The WMC's relationship with Cape Town Opera has certainly been healthy and hearty.

We are graced with yearly visits from them, with the recent Porgy And Bess along with the Mandela Opera Trilogy. Sadly, there isn't a great list of shows a mainly black company can perform for the sake of legitimacy (perhaps Carmen Jones should be next?). But this troupe proved their metal with intense singing and joyous dance and movement.

To an extent, Show Boat shows its age (it premiered in 1927). Even with a paper-thin storyline, it's infectious nature and superb song list make even the biggest sourpuss yield into head-bopping and smiley times.

The racial tension of the piece is present from the start, with even the second line of dialogue containing the awful 'n' word (you hear this remark throughout the show). The theme of interracial married strikes a chord in our hearts, as today's struggle over same sex marriages goes on. Absent fathers is another totally relatable theme to this critic. Race still remains a big issue in the UK, even more so in South Africa. Porgy And Bess is considered a racist work (it's debatable), but is this? Granted both shows were by white composers and lyricists, but the songs are certainly memorable and have a convincing realistic form...

Old Man River and Can't Help Loving That Man are just some of the classics Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II created. It was more about the songs back then, I guess. We do care for the characters but in a weird sort of way. Sometimes it feels silly for them to break into song, instead of just dealing with the matter at hand. The costumes were vintage and had much charm, the sets impressive, yet never too much. The lead cast had wit, vigour and vitality. The ensemble were glowing as always. 

In the press reception before the show, I marvelled at a strange South African flower on every table, as I drank their white wine. In its ten years of opening, I realise just how important the relationship with this company has been for WMC and for us in Wales. We are blessed to have them join us on so many occasions.

Rating: 8/10

Show Boat is in the Wales Millennium Centre till Saturday 26th July 2014

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