Theatre Review: Music At The Movies – Film And Family, Or The Keys To Memories

March 13, 2022

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Music At The Movies / Rocco De Villiers with Lizelle le Roux / Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre, Fourways


Surrounded by a semicircle of giant Academy Award-alike props. Rocco De Villiers takes his seat at his piano in what is – for him – a restrained black outfit, with only some beading and other elements on his jacket nodding towards his trademark flamboyance. He’s also, unusually, joined by a co-star in his friend Lizelle le Roux, whose violin will soon add layers of texture to the songs presented – a curated collection of offerings from the soundtracks to a list of famous films including Dr Zhivago, Love Story, and Cinema Paradiso, plus the occasional television series, like St Elmo’s Fire.

There’s one consistent niggle: for a show marketed to promise music, and particularly virtuosic piano playing, there is a lot of talking in Music At The Movies. De Villiers and Le Roux each have a mic and between songs or small groups of songs, they ignore their instruments to banter about what it is about film scores and soundtracks that they find so exciting, There are also umpteen detours into territory that have little to do with either film or music.

The saving grace of these sections is the personable warmth projected by both musicians, whose clear enjoyment of each other’s company creates a sweet, jokey atmosphere – fun to hang around in, even if you are hoping for a composition or three soon. A story about Omar Sharif visiting the Free State is particularly delightful.

As ever in such a show, there is no pleasing everyone with the song choices and, though a number of huge hits will feel like they’re missing, depending on your personal taste, the duo do a fine job of interpreting their selections on stage. De Villiers generally does what he does best – florid, syncopated passages that fit an extra 12 (or 30) notes into whatever the composer originally had in the bar. He is also, though, capable of sonic sensitivity, sometimes playing so softly that an expression almost gets lost in the rest of the track. Le Roux is a superb musician, with technical bowing precision that gives each track played texture and dynamic feel (and which just sounds incredible).

The narration is in a mixture of English and Afrikaans, making the tone even more relaxed and conversational. As such, you’ll feel like you’re among friends (and you might actually be – make a block booking!), and though the running time is a touch generous thanks to all the links, you’ll have a pleasant evening.

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