q Theatre Review: Pleasing Idol Chatter, Or Stories Supersede Singing - Bruce Dennill

Theatre Review: Pleasing Idol Chatter, Or Stories Supersede Singing

May 13, 2015



Let’s Get It On – The Life And Music Of Marvin Gaye / Joburg Theatre / Starring Lloyd Cele / Directed by Simon Myers


After achieving success following his stint on Season 6 of South African Idols, runner-up in that competition Lloyd Cele has been relatively quiet. In his current show, he is reminding Joburg Theatre audiences why he was such a crowd favourite when he was first introduced to the scene.

The opening night of Let’s Get it On – The Life And Music Of Marvin Gaye was watched by an audience made up of a wide range of ages and cultures. From Lloyd’s first spoken word, the crowd knew they were in for treat. From his re-enactment of Marvin’s first live performance of the US national anthem to the pauses in his narration and his bouncing between being himself and playing Marvin Gaye, Cele’s passion for the music of Marvin Gaye – and the artist himself – was clear.

Backed by Australian outfit The Funk City Band, the production proved impressive. Tammy Tyrell/Diana Ross/Anna Gordy for the night, Vika Bull, gave a strong supporting performance, temporarily stealing the show with her performance of Trouble Man. Both the band and Vika helped showcased Lloyd’s strong vocals.

The crowd became restless during the course of the two hour show. Friday night fatigue plagued the faces of many audience members, and the lesser-known songs were not performed with enough spark to keep the audience hooked. Lloyd’s attempts to regain attention fell short, and below par dancing did little to help his cause. In the end, there seemed to be more interest in the storytelling than the singing – both from the audience and the star. This was evidenced by the audience responding more to the stories they had never heard before than the songs they had heard before but did not know well.

Then the moment came – the recognisable guitar chords were played, followed by Lloyd belting out the opening line to the song that gives the show its name. “I been really tryin’, baby,” he sang, as the crowd got onto their feet and finally received what they had paid for. Lloyd owned that moment, and the former reality show runner-up was a winner on the Joburg Theatre stage as he sang the famous track. Sealing the evening off with a great take on Sexual Healing left audience members humming as they left, impressed by Lloyd’s hugely improved (since his first TV outings) vocals.

Nevertheless, an impressive ending could not overshadow the overall feeling that interest lay more in the story than in the music. Entertaining, but with room for improvement.