Review: Vibey heritage musical theatre in The Jive Culture Shock 2021 – finale on November 27, 2021

The Jive Culture Shock– sponsored by Jive Cooldrinks and other partners has been streamed every Saturday night, 8pm, in November. Two minstrel/choir troupes have put on a show in each episode, with a panel of judges deciding on the winning troupe for each episode. The judges: Rushney Ferguson, Carlo Daniels, Felicia Lesch and Armien Vardien and guest judges. The episodes were pre-recorded at Artscape. The finale – episode 4 is on Saturday – November 27, 2021.  I have been bowled over by this series. I expected a minstrel competition but it is much more than that – musical theatre- delving deep into Cape heritage.

This is the second season of The Jive Culture Shock. The first season was held in 2020 and was conceptualised as a response to Covid. During lockdown, it was not possible for teams to take part at in-person events, traditionally held in stadiums in Cape Town and in street parades. The brief was to bring together history, culture, heritage (Cape minstrels and Malay Choirs), contemporary influences (covers of popular songs –particularly from the heyday of District Six). I have been intrigued by the theatricality brought to each episode. As noted by the judges, the performers are not used to the theatre context. Covid took them from outdoor venues into the theatre –streaming shows for online viewing- on screens. The troupes were briefed to use choreography, sound and theatre space and be mindful of creating links between songs, narratives and dialogue. The result – evocative mini musical theatre performances. I could see these showcases being developed into musical theatre productions. All of the troupes worked incredibly hard and were praised by the judges.

I was bowled over watching The A&E Star Crooners in Episode 3. Judge Rushney Ferguson enthused: “I had goosebumps. I wanted more.” Me too. She praised the Star Crooners for its seamless integration between song and dialogue. They told their story – with a flow between words, voice and evocation of images of history. They used the theatre space (stage), lighting, band, choreography. Carlo Daniels quipped:” Lekker and vibey”. He suggested that more attention should be on transitioning from “slave times to now”, to take the piece to another level. A star performance. This set could be develop into a klopse musical theatre show and I hope that producers are watching the series. I look forward to the finale on Saturday – November 27. Click here tickets for the finale episode: at 8pm. R100 a ticket (plus R5 booking fee). After the live-stream of the pre-recorded finale, the stream will be available for a week.

✳ Screenshot by TheCapeRobyh – Episode 3- The A&E Star Crooners in The Jive Culture Shock, November 20, live-stream of pre-recorded show, filmed at Artscape. The stream is available to watch, until November 27. Related coverage on TheCapeRobyn: