Review: Come Fly with Us, Big Band online concert, filmed at OR Tambo airport, produced by Waiting in the Wings SA
Date: Sunday October 4 until Sunday Oct 11, 10pm
This pre-recorded concert went out as a live stream broadcast at 7pm, on Sunday October 4 and is available for viewing as video on demand, until Sunday Oct 11, 10pm, via quicket. The platform was apparently overloaded which led to technical issues in the 7pm premiere slot. When I could access the link, I was overwhelmed by this amazing concert – 15 piece big swing band – filmed at in a hangar a (OR Tambo) airport; inside and outside an Airbus A340. There is song, dance and shtick from the air attendants, Sylvaine Strike (aka Florence) and Toni Morkel (Svetlana). I loved watching. Come Fly with Us is a celebration of the musical/theatre industry- a feel-good show to lift our spirits.
This show kicks off inside the Airbus A340, with the passengers – socially distanced– singing Come fly with me. The air attendants escape from the toilets – the action transfers to the ground. The plane becomes the backdrop and stage for the concert. We see the rigging go up and the band starts up. Dancers emerge and we are treated to musical standards like: Ain’t that a kick in the head, What a wonderful world, My way, Mr Bojangles, Respect, When I fall in love, Stevie Wonder’s Superstition; For once in my life; Feeling Good, Valerie and Can’t take my eyes off of you.
The dazzling lineup includes Graeme Watkins, Harry Sideropoulos, Lelo Ramasimong, Itu Sings, Megan Carelse, Adam Pelkowitz, Leote Taylor, Donovan Yaards, Winray Fortuin, Funeka Peppeta, Kiruna Lind-Devar and Lyla Faye.
The plane is integrated into the concert –as prop and stage. Performers climb over and around the structure. The plane is like a character – the main protagonist – of this show. The stairs become like a grand Hollywood stair case. This is Broadway transported to the airport in Joburg.
I felt very emotional watching. We have amazing musical talent in South Africa and this concert, filmed in a hangar at OR Tambo is embalmatic on so many levels. Our musical theatre companies tour internationally, leaving on jet planes. Touring has been put on hold during the pandemic. The industry has been grounded. Performing in front of an audience in South Africa, was not possible until recently, when we entered lockdown level 1 (with seating restrictions, physical distancing, Covid safety protocols). Here we have this big show, with all the trimmings, on the ground, sure but with the sky in reach. There is a sense of “soon, soon.” After months of lockdown – the show conveys a tangible sense of hope – that we will be able to fly again – soon- physically, artistically, emotionally. The big bird of a Boeing will lift off. We will all be able to lift off – free from the pandemic.
Talking of wonderful – the singers are magic to listen to and watch – Lelo Ramasimong- oh my- the last time I saw her perform was in the international franchise, Burn The Floor, at The Baxter in Cape Town. Each singer is a treat to behold. The crooners – Graeme Watkins, Harry Sideropoulos, Adam Pelkowitz- ahhh. They are all in full throttle voice, urging us to fly with them.
Ten year old Josh Bouwer is a show stopper with What a Wonderful World. Watch and tear up. The whole show is a shout-out to hope and resilience of the live performance industry. No one can say when a vaccine will be available for general consumption but watching this concert and I feel upbeat that it is within reach. The artists sing, Feelin’ Good and I watch and I feel good.
Bravo to Owen Lonzar and Megan Carelse, of Waiting In The Wings SA. They established Waiting in The Wings, a non-profit organisation, to assist performing artists who have had no work because of the lockdown. Most artists in the industry are freelance, with no unemployment relief and they have literally been left with no money for food. Come Fly with Us is the third show, produced during lockdown, to raise funds for the entertainment industry.
The show was shot in September, “Two weeks ago”, says Bridget van Oerle of BUZ PR. “It was edited in a week.” The crew was paid up front. “Everything else was donated. Artists in the show are all performing for a percentage of the ticket sales.” It is an amazing feat to put this together in a short time frame – choreography, costumes, lighting – full-on production details that one would expect from a big band theatre show. A shout-out to director of photography, Lauge Saurensen. In addition to DOP, he edited the footage. Mighty impressive that this was edited in week. Buy a ticket and help Waiting In The Wings SA to provide artists with assistance, until they can get back to work in the events industry.
The creative team are producers: Owen Lonzar and Megan Carelse; directed and choreographed by Owen Lonzar, vocal direction by Megan Carelse, band leader Etienne Mecleon, director of photography, cameraman and editor is Lauge Saurensen, technical director Aaron Harvey, Stage Management Alyssa Harrison, lighting by Luke Draper and sound design by Nik Sakellarides.
Partners and sponsors of Waiting In The Wings SA: Lauge Sorensen Productions, Johannesburg Academy for Theatre and Arts – Anitra Davel van Zyl; The Pink Room – Nik Sakellarides; BUZ PR – Bridget van Oerle and Sneziwe Dube; Thunder Road Communications – Johan Jay – Vos and HSoft – Ian Scott
❇ Image credit: Toni Morkel and Sylvaine Strike. Supplied.