Review: Your Song is a joyful and poignant celebration of the music of Sir Elton John, a show which is wistful and reflective, premiere season Theatre on The Bay, Cape Town, May 2022

What: Your Song – The Music of Elton John
Featuring: Anton Luitingh, Amy Campbell and Tshepo Ncokoane
When: May 6-21, 2022
Where: Theatre on The Bay, Cape Town
Tickets: R150-R250
Box office bookings and info: Theatre on the Bay box office on 021 438 3300

For creative credits, see:      

Sir Elton John: What does his music mean and signify for you? The dynamic and hyper talented Anton Luitingh, Amy Campbell and Tshepo Ncokoane are presenting Your Song – The Music of Elton John, at Theatre on The Bay (May 6-21, 2022). The show includes hits and lesser known numbers which may not be known to a general public- darker songs by the maestro Sir Elton. From the opening to the rousing finale – I am Still Standing– the audience was screaming and singing along. It is a fun, energetic show- a fabulous night of entertainment. However, it is much more than a ‘tribute’ show. I loved Your Song and left with the songs in my head, revelling in the opportunity to see Elton John songs, performed on stage, with live accompaniment on the piano by Anton Luitingh and Amy Campbell. There are no backtracks- fabulous. I also left with the thrumming of images and questions posed in the show.

Your Song is much more than a well-executed ‘tribute show’. Within the genre of a so-called ‘tribute show’, there is a wry and poignant take on what Sir Elton’s music signifies for us in on the African continent, in South Africa, 2022. Christopher Dudgeon’s insightful and reflective script unpacks the notion that in paying tribute to this great artist, there is a recognition that each of the performers brings a sense of self the stage in portraying the iconic songs. Anton Luitingh, Amy Campbell and Tshepo Ncokoane quip that they are each playing Sir Elton –‘impersonating’ the great artist who has grappled with substance abuse, shopping addiction, celebrity, fame, issues around his sexuality. He eventually found balance between the private and public spheres- and happiness. We smile and marvel at that. We all want to be loved and accepted and that resonates in terms of its universality. Of course, the performers are not and cannot be Elton John. We laugh at the image of them, impersonating Elton John. Thank goodness, they don’t try and do that. I think that we have all seen umpteen tribute shows, with artists donning Elton regalia and looking ridiculous. Within the paradigm of tribute and impersonation, they segue into multiple personas, digging deep into Elton and what he means to them as individuals.  Many tribute shows provide links between numbers, however Dudgeon drives the conversation into what it means to be doing Elton in 2022, South Africa. The performers make their way through issues of privilege and ageism. Issues of racial and gender slurs are dangled before us. If Elton himself, termed himself in certain ways to express his sexual orientation, is it okay for us to cite him, using these references which are widely considered as racial slurs? No, it is not okay, quips Tshepo Ncokoane but we hear how Elton has described himself, using the words that he used and which may have once been considered passable but are no longer accepted but in the context of a show, well, it is okay to have a laugh. It makes for engaging and compelling viewing and one leaves the theatre, reflecting and thinking.

The production company, presenting Your Song, is Deviant Theatricals and that is core to its mission – to deviate from mainstream narratives- and present musical theatre (revues, tributes etc) with punch and verve. One is treated to the fabulous music of Elton John – beautifully arranged as a theatrical homage – rather than a tribute show – with an alluring and glam set design and costumes (Niall Griffin) and stunning performances by the acclaimed trio of performers. Your Song is a joyful and poignant celebration of the music of Sir Elton John and a show which is wistful and reflective. Go and see it.

News flash: Last night, May 16, 2022, at the Naledi Theatre Awards, in Johannesburg, Christopher Dudgeon won the Naledi for Best New South African Script for The Trolley Dollies – A Musical, by The Trolley Dollies Productions. The Trolley Dollies team won two other Naledis- Best Production of a musical or musical theatre production and Best Ensemble -Brendan van Rhyn, Christopher Dudgeon and Rudi Jansen. It is wonderful to see the talents of Christopher Dudgeon and the Trolley Dollies, receiving recognition. Go see Your Song and get a fix of his delicious take on Elton John.

Rousing theatrical homage: Amy Campbell and Anton Luitingh (front) and Tshepo Ncokoane (back), in Your Song – The Music of Elton John– launch season at Theatre on the Bay, Cape Town, May 2022.

✳ Pics- Gustav Klotz Photography. Supplied. Related coverage on TheCapeRobyn: