Review: LAMTA’s dazzling All Together Now! at Theatre on The Bay, Cape Town, global musical theatre revue event, facilitated by Music Theatre International (MTI), waiving licensing fees for theatres around the world, weekend of November 12 – 15, 2021

This weekend – November 12 – 15, 2021, theatrical licensor Music Theatre International (MTI) invited theatres around the globe to stage, All Together Now!– a revue compiled from songs from its catalogue of musical theatre titles- at no cost- without licensing fees. It is thrilling to consider that over 2 500 in over 40 countries have been performing musical revues; selecting musical theatre numbers from the MTI catalogue. The global event has been about harnessing hope around the return to open up theatres, which have been shuttered to a large extent, during the pandemic. The event has also been a fundraising initiative to assist theatres, during these challenging pandemic days. Creatives all over the world have banded together – this weekend – bringing in audiences into theatres- and providing a tangible sense of confidence that musical theatre will revive – soon,

In Cape Town, LAMTA has staged All Together Now! at Pieter Toerien’s Theatre in Camps Bay, starring South African musical theatre stars, Bethany Dickson (Matilda, The Sound Of Music, Sunset Boulevard, Grease) and Earl Gregory (Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Into The Woods, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar), accompanied by students from LAMTA. I was dazzled by the songs, Gregory, Dickson and the LAMTA Company. It was great to see musical theatre back in full swing in at Theatre on the Bay. Interspersed with the song sets, there is linking commentary, about the event and the hiatus of live performance, due to the pandemic. The message: The show will and is going on. The theatre cannot wait to welcome audiences into experiencing the joy of musical theatre.

LAMTA [Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy], based on the premises of Theatre on the Bay,  has kept the flame of theatre going, through the pandemic but for the first time yesterday, November 13, I felt that, yes, we will be able to soon experience big musicals. No one can prophesy what exactly “soon” signifies. Without being able to seat at full or near full capacity, it is economically unviable to stage big musicals. I must say that I am, baffled, watching people; streaming into shopping malls and supermarkets and yet theatres are operating at minimal capacity, according to lockdown regulations.

In the interim, we can enjoy smaller scale revues, such as All Together Now! Kudos to MTI and individuals like Cameron Mackintosh (he is co-owner of MTI) for making musical theatre numbers available from much loved musicals- to theatres around the world- this weekend – without the payment of licensing fees. Staged by Anton Luitingh and Duane Alexander, of LAMTA, All Together Now! at Theatre on the Bay, is dazzling. The principals – Bethany Dickson and Earl Gregory are in glorious form. The LAMTA Company delivers knockout performances – with impressive solos and zesty ensemble dancing (choreography by Duane Alexander). The costuming is glam and elegant (wow to Niall Griffin and wardrobe assistant Frances Moerdyk). Lighting by Faheem Bardien is magical. Louis Zurnamer’s hand in musical supervision is evident in the arrangements. I wanted more. It is difficult to believe that LAMTA is a student academy. The company is delivering on a professional level. Last week, Liné Koen, a 2020 LAMTA graduate was awarded a Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award as Most Promising Student of the Year. [Tebatso Denilson Molapo of the Centre for Theatre Dance and Performance Studies-UCT- was also awarded in this category).

The last number in the programme of LAMTA’s, All Together Now! is: You Can’t Stop the Beat [from Hairspray]. This upbeat song brought the audience to its feet, in appreciation and awe. A great song, emblematic of the resilience of the musical theatre community and an inspired choice to wrap up this showcase revue of All Together Now! on the African continent. It is heartening to consider that audiences around the world, have been gathering, this weekend, at theatres, cheering on companies, who have not stopped the beat.  I saw All Together Now, yesterday, Saturday November 13. There are two shows on Monday – but they are sold out. Book early LAMTA shows- in 2022- at Theatre on the Bay.

All Together Now! Left to right: Tjaart van der Walt, Gianluca Gironi, Austin Tshikosi, Allen Chambers, at Theatre on The Bay, staged by LAMTA, November 12 – 15, 2021, as part of the global initiative by theatrical licensor Music Theatre International (MTI). Supplied.

❇ Featured image: Earl Gregory and Bethany Dickson in All Together Now! at Theatre on The Bay, staged by LAMTA, November 12 – 15, 2021, as part of the initiative by theatrical licensor Music Theatre International (MTI) to provide musical theatre numbers, sans licensing fees to theatres around the world. Image supplied.