CALIENTE. Directed by Vanessa Harris. With Ash Searle, Bradley Searle, Emily Isted, Liam McDermott, Nicole van den Berg and Vanessa Harris. At the Kalk Bay Theatre.
KAREN RUTTER reviews
What happens when you take six sassy performers, four weeks of holidays, three sombreros, and one cocktail glass, and blend them into the mix? Why, the perfect festive season production, of course!
FollowSpot, the team behind hits like the Big Boys trilogy, Bon Soir and Elton and Friends, have come up with yet another action-packed and fun offering which fulfils their mission entirely – to create accessible and comedic musical theatre. Their latest show is aptly titled Caliente – which means ‘hot” in Spanish – and features 60 scorching minutes of song and dance routines (with a few slightly surreal twists, as the team have become known for). There are tap dancing and strength acts, there’s mariachi madness, rude songs, tight choreography and some stuff with a pole that looked very dangerous but was pretty impressive. Which may sound fragmented, when reading this – but when combined under the alert eye of director Vanessa Harris (who also makes a very fine Mistress of the House), it pulls together as a sizzling whole.
What makes it special
We’re not going to detail all the different vignettes that go into making this production such a slick experience – it could spoil some of the magic, and we’d rather you go and see for yourself. But we will single out the performers who make Caliente what it is, each bringing their own piece of specialness to the production. Emily Isted and Nicole van den Berg are, as the programme describes, the “incredibly agile and bendy sirens” of the show; the dancers who do magnificent moves within the intimate space of the Kalk Bay Theatre with polished ease. They’re an absolute please to watch. Liam McDermott, he of the soulful voice and nimble guitarwork, is equally an absolute pleasure to hear, and shows a nice line in comedy as a part of the three mental mariachis. Bradley Searle once again both thrills and amuses with his mix of smooth dance skills and goofy funnyman riffs – a role he is very popular for in the Big Boys series. And his sibling Ash brings a touch of the awesome to the proceedings with his impressive physical talents, comic timing and deft choreography. Tying it all up is Vanessa Harris who plays a dual role as overall director as well as hilarious MC/Mistress, a role that is part ringmaster with a splash of steampunk and burlesque.
It is these last two that deserve a large chunk of the praise, particularly. Apart from being accomplished actors, singers and dancers, Ash and Vanessa are the founders of FollowSpot, as well as the owners of the Kalk Bay Theatre. They have worked incredibly hard to establish their particular brand of musical theatre, providing a platform – and a theatrical home – not only for themselves but for many other musicians, dancers and actors. It is an accomplishment for them to be proud of, and an opportunity for audiences to benefit from.
Caliente is the latest result of this energy, and very hot and spicy it is too! So get on down to the Kalk Bay Theatre and experience the sizzle.
Where and when: Kalk Bay Theatre until 31 December 2017