Review: LAMTA’s Being Steve – delicious tasting menu of Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, and Stephen Flaherty- delectable end of the year showcase

Being Steve- Tribute to three Broadway legends -Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, and Stephen Flaherty

When: November 16- 262022
Where: Theatre on The Bay, Camps Bay, Cape Town
Bookings: Computicket or contact Ingrid at | 083 273 8284

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Being Steve is a treat. It is a tribute to three legends of musical theatre – Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Flaherty. The show, staged by Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy (LAMTA), is on until November 26, 2022 at Theatre on The Bay, in Cape Town. Being Steve is a celebration of the remarkable storytelling powers of the three Steves. It is like a tasting menu for musical theatre- a delicious tasting menu. The clever conceptual arc deftly frames works by three titans of Broadway.

I am using the analogy of a tasting menu in ‘gourmet’ restaurants. One gets dished up small portions of what is on the menu and it is a terrific way to savour the food. One’s appetite is whetted. One wants more.  Years ago, I was lucky to attend a tasting menu event in Cape Town, hosted by a gourmet festival (which sadly no longer exists). There were over twenty courses, served by chefs from around the world. We had the opportunity to taste dishes that we were familiar. There were ingredients new to us and different modes or preparation. This is how I felt, watching Being Steve. The LAMTA students sing their way through the songs of three musical theatre greats. I want more. I want to see all these musicals – on stage – in South Africa. Musical theatre was put on pause during the pandemic and watching, Being Steve, was an emotional experience, for me. We have missed out in the last three years. This show is a like tingling the musical theatre palate- with appetizers.

From the Being Steve programme, I have seen five of the musicals on stage in South Africa and one abroad. I am familiar with most of the songs as they have been sung widely. Pocahontas (Schwartz) has not been staged yet as a stage musical. However many of us are familiar with the animated film. Keely Crocker leading the LAMTA company does a stirring rendition of Colours of the Wind. It was a revelation for me hear songs from musicals that I am not familiar with such as Ragtime (Flaherty). Chlöe Howes is magic, singing Crime of the Century, along with the company. The lyrics and music – sublime. 

I was bowled over by the iconic, Oscar Award winning song, When You Believe, from Prince of Egypt  (Schwartz). The soloists – Nandipa Nyivana and Sasha-Lee Duffy are magic as a duo and the company come on to stage, singing in Hebrew. Prince of Egypt, the stage musical is based on the 1998 animated film of the same name (which I have seen). The stage musical premiered in October 2017, on Broadway. I would love to see this musical on stage in South Africa.

Bravo to LAMTA – for the excellence of its work. Being Steve spectacularly caps the academy’s body of work for 2022. The staging is Broadway glam – stylishly presented with seamless transitions between numbers and consummate direction by LAMTA’s Duane Alexander and Anton Luitingh; interweaving solo performance with ensemble work by the LAMTA company.

Being Steve is about voice as primary medium of expression and is impressive. It is not surprising that LAMTA graduates are being nabbed and being cast in major musicals (in SA and abroad). The talent is breathtaking. It’s difficult to believe that one is watching students. With Being Steve, one could be on Broadway, watching a show, featuring the brilliance of the three Steves. I love the diversity of voices and the way each LAMTA performer is an individual and not a cookie cut copy. Being Steve whetted my appetite to see more of the music by the three Steves and musical theatre, in general. Do not miss. Short season – wraps up November 26, 2022.

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