DANCE/COMEDY: CAPE TOWN, Big Boys Don’t Dance at The Kalk Bay Theatre, until June 7, 2019
Big Boys Don’t Dance: review
Performers: Ashley Searle and Brad Searle
Director: Vanessa Harris
Animation: Vanessa Harris
Video clips: featuring Alan Committie
Producer: Follow Spot Productions
Duration: 60 minutes
Big Boys Don’t Dance: review
Loved this show. Huge fun. Expect to get a pain in the gut from laughing as you watch Big Boys Don’t Dance and be dazzled (as always yes, but even more in this show) by the dancing of Ash and Brad Searle.
This is a re-boot of the original Big Boys Don’t Dance show which was first staged ten years ago. It is the same but different. The framework sketch comedy narrative of the first Big Boys is there but it has been vividly re-imagined for 2019.
I expected a slight update and tweaks here and there but major work has been gone into this terrific show with zany animation (Vanessa Harris – this woman does it all), graphics, video footage and signature Follow Spot voice over announcements (in airports- fabulous).
Sequences from previous shows have been cleverly inserted– such as the Towel Act (not going to say more – if you are not familiar with this – it’s a surprise). There are references to things which were not around ten years ago – like Uber. Watch out for the flash-back scene of Ashley’s matric dance. This scene introduces new scope for the Searle brothers. That’s all I am going to say- except – Ash, you scrub up rather well.
To top it all, Alan Committie is now part of the Big Boys story and his role (albeit a virtual presence) widens the lens of the journey of the boys. Am being cryptic in order not to plot spoil. I understand that it marks the first formal collaboration between Committie and Vanessa Harris and the Searle brothers. Plotzing for more. (Plotzing is Yiddish for –bursting/exploding. By the way Committie will be on The Kalk Bay Stage – in person in his solo show Classy Clown – August 20-27.)
Big Boys has grown into a dance-comedy franchise with three editions in the repertoire of Follow Spot Productions. Follow Spot was about to roll out edition number four and then the pause button was hit. Why not re-visit the very first Big Boys in preparation for the new piece, posed Harris. Many people had not seen edition one so that was reason enough to go back to the beginning and show fans where it all started. The premise underlying the Big Boys franchise is that “big boys can dance”. Never mind the big boy names who have danced and do dance- such as the late and great Michael Jackson, there is still resistance that it is not okay for boys to dance. Let’s not get into gender/sexual stereotyping but it is what it is. As the boys point out astutely in this show, sports dances and so called manly dance genres are fine but not full-on dance.
In the decade of the Big Boys shows, they have staged this show at schools and festivals- often in small towns. They told me that there has been a great deal of feedback from young boys who relish the affirmation that it is socially acceptable to dance.
If you are not familiar with the Big Boys franchise, here goes. In the original Big Boys, the boys (Ash and Brad) enter a dance competition, held in the boondocks, somewhere in South Africa. This is after, a stripper steals a car at the bachelor party of Ash. The car belongs to his father in law-to-be. Prize money is needed to buy another car and fix losses incurred. Plot spoiler alert. In this Big Boys, the boys travel to Perth, Australia to enter a talent search – Alan’s Talent Show (aka Alan Committie). This opens the opportunity to present a compendium of dance genres from around the world – another reference to a previous show.
The Searles and Harris are quoting themselves in this production – how they were a decade ago and how they are now – ten years older. Loads of self-referential mirth. The rapport between brothers Ash and Brad Searle is wonderful. They have fun executing athletic dance- hot and sweaty- tossing each other into the air- catching, flipping. They have had fun for ten years and are still having fun as they almost break into hysteria over of the silliness of the story (for example – you can get into Australia without a legit passport or visa). The story – essentially a string of sketch comedy scenes – is cheesy and meant to be a schmaltzy caper. In the beginning – edition one – the comedy was very basic. The dance was centre. Over the years, the comedy has developed and holds its own. In this show, they put the shtick into the cheesiness- ripping into the shmaltz of planning weddings and navigating relationships.
Ten years ago, they were working with tacked together power point jump cuts. A decade later and the visuals are top notch: animation, dance footage, lighting. An absolute joy: dance-comedy of excellence.
For those heading to the National Arts Festival: Follow Spot is taking three shows to the NAF– Big Boys, Bijou and You Should be Dancing. The NAF shows sell out so do book.
* Big Boys Don’t Dance is on at The Kalk Bay Theatre, until June 7, 2019, at 8.30pm- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Duration: 60 minutes. Restaurant opens at 6.15pm. Tickets are R165. You may watch the show and not have dinner but diners have first choice of the unreserved seating in the theatre. Two for one on Tuesdays and buy one main meal, get one free on Wednesdays. Book at www.kalkbaytheatre.co.za or call 021 788 725. Wheelchair access available at service entrance. Call ahead to arrange.
Upcoming shows at The Kalk Bay Theatre – June to October 2019:
Bijou – June 8-15
Two and a Half Tenors – June 18-29 (Paul du Toit and Pierre van Heerden)
Theatre closed: June 30 to July 13 (they will all be at the National Arts Festival)
Four Tons of Fun – July 19, 20
Abba Show- July 23-27
Man Band – July 30 to August 17
Barry Hilton – August 10
Classy Clown – August 20-27
Bloopers – September 24 to October 5
Gaia – opens October 29