Dance Review: Come Together – Fab Feet And A First-Rate Feat

November 12, 2022




Come Together / Presented by LAMTA / Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre, Fourways, Johannesburg


If you want to make an immediate connection with an audience, there are worse ideas than soundtracking a project with the music of the Beatles. Cape Town’s Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy (LAMTA) are a quality outfit, so such smarts not surprising, but basic expectations soon need to be abandoned once the curtain goes up on Come Together, a production designed to showcase the dance skills of the Academy’s 2022 crop.

If there are threads that runs throughout the production (other than the music), they are attention to detail and commitment to making each aspect work as well as possible. Underpinning everything is the soundtrack – beautifully curated cover versions of Beatles songs in a range of styles offering everything from five-piece a capella (and sung live) harmonies that give you goosebumps to heavy guitar onslaughts that, um, also give you goosebumps. Each piece – and there are plenty in two 45-minute acts – features its own tailored costumes, meaning the visuals – even before anyone starts dancing – are as interesting as the sounds. And the choreography, which includes styles from tap to ballet and ballroom to hip hop, is uniformly appealing, drawing the audience in and creating the means for the dancers to express themselves fully.

Firm, insightful direction has been backed up by clearly evident graft in the rehearsal room to create smooth-flowing scene changes that keep the performers working hard, with real breaks only coming in the forms of interesting and well-edited excerpts tracking the Beatles’ rise to fame, the heady highlights of the good years and the difficult denouement of a band still unmatched in influence. For a cast being trained as triple-threat performers, the general mastery of complex dance steps is remarkable, with only dance professionals, and even then only the pickiest among them, finding anything to quibble about (perhaps the angle of foot here, or the exact syncopation of some tapping there).

Another aspect – and perhaps the single facet of the show that has the most resounding impact – is the full-blooded commitment of everyone on stage to everything they do. In every moment, there is engagement with each other and the audience – largely smiles and expressions of delight; occasionally more sombre or intense looks when the choreography calls for it – in the dancers’ faces, a sometimes forgotten part of the anatomy when the focus is on the movement of the whole body. There are lifts that require a fearlessness that will likely be lost with experience, achieved with aplomb and confidence borne of excellent training and youthful strength and fitness. There is intricacy of choreography, often with upwards of 20 performers on stage, that ensures that the likelihood of mistakes is relatively higher, and relatively more costly. But those mistakes don’t get made, and the pay-off for the audience is a thrill that doesn’t happen too often in theatre. It’s the vibe in the Fame street dance scene; the energy in the full-cast kinetic percussion of Stomp; the feeling (almost) of being an arm’s length away from Paul, John, George and Ringo as they landed in London after their US tour.

If you can dance, you’ll want to immediately after seeing this show. If you can’t you’ll want to sing, or paint, or write, or create…something. It’s an astonishing piece of work, and if it’s only the launchpad for its young cast, the universe is their oyster.