OFFBEAT BROADWAY 5 – BEHAVING BADLY. Directed by Alan Committie with Anton Luitingh, Lindy Abromowitz Sachs and Paul du Toit. Theatre on the Bay.

Offbeat Broadway 5

KAREN RUTTER reviews

Whether you love or hate musicals, you’re bound to have fun with this amusing send up that takes some of the most iconic tunes from the genre – and then trashes them. Not in a bad way, you understand – more in the affectionate manner of a performer who knows the plot all too well, and decides to play around with it.

The Offbeat Broadway series – now in its fifth incarnation – features three such skilled talents, who’ve all paid their dues in the big musical arena. From Cats to Grease to The Rocky Horror Show, they’ve made the moves. And now they’re making their own grooves, set to a similar beat, but with a whole lotta other stuff going down.

Anton Luitingh, Paul du Toit and Lindy Abromowitz Sachs are the collective brains behind this caricature of musical theatre crackers. And they know what they’re doing – they started the format 19 years ago, and it’s proved so popular that they’re back. It’s fairly simple, on paper – choose some of the best-loved (or least, for that matter) songs from a selection of award-winning (or not) musicals, and send them up a little. You could take a melody, for example, and mix in material unrelated to the original lyrics. You could choose a huge theatrical scene and decide to reproduce it with only three players. Or you could ever-so-slightly tweak a theme song so it has an entirely different meaning. Over the years the trio has done variations on all of these, and OffBeat Broadway 5 – Behaving Badly is no different.

Offbeat Broadway 5

Bear in mind, though, that it’s been around eight years since their last outing so there’s new material for them to work with (From The Book of Mormon to Hamilton and more) – and we are in an election year (what a great space for send-up). Needless to say, the OBB team take full advantage.

Snappy and spot on

I just loved their ABBA breakdown of the different political parties – such apt choices! And of course, being in the Cape there had to be mention of water restrictions. Also sneakily clever were the references to the local theatre biz, from Pieter Toerien to the Fugard to Jonathan Roxmouth. And the potted history of musicals was snappy and spot on.

What makes the mix more than just satire, however, is the interspersing of serious moments with silly, where the singers, plus Luitingh adroitly accompaning on piano, have a chance to shine individually. There were some lovely moments, notably “It’s Quiet Uptown” from Hamilton, and “With You” from Ghost.

But the emphasis of the evening is on light-hearted entertainment, and it’s dished up with palpable enjoyment by Luitingh, Du Toit and Abromowitz Sachs, with added wickedness coming from director Alan Committie.

Just a warning: You’ll probably never hear “Tomorrow” in the same way again, after this …

What: Offbeat Broadway 5 – Behaving Badly

Where and when: Theatre on the Bay from 24 April to 11 May 2019

Book: Computicket

WS