Emile Minnie does not have the greatest singing voice. Neither does Godfrey Johnson. But these two gentlemen share a talent that far outweighs that minor glitch: a crystal clear understanding of what makes good old-fashioned entertainment.
For their current show, the set is once again minimal, with a piano centre stage and flamboyant, glitter-laden coats hanging on either side. As they took their seats it was clear that some members of the audience were a little sceptical. They were the ones who had not seen Godfrey Johnson and/or Emile Minnie in action before. Sure enough, when Minnie walked on to the floor his quirky personality immediately embraced the entire room.
Minnie played a mixture of Afrikaans love songs, coupled with an impressive handful of his original creations on both piano and clarinet. His French songs were beautiful, a bit overdone possibly but then I like to understand what I am listening to – a shortcoming of mine, not his. (Note to self, learn French.) A clear audience favourite was the Edith Piaf classic ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’.
Godfrey Johnson was every bit as fabulous and funny in his own right. His style is different, more boyish and playful, but equally as entertaining. He captivated the audience with his highly humorous versions of jazz standards. “Fever” became “Seizure”. Classic stuff.
Separately, they are hilarious. Together, they are spectacular. Their music selection from the beginning of the show to the double-encore at the end had the audience singing along, swaying to the rhythm and giggling throughout.
Songs that stood out were ‘Gee my Jou Hand’, a beautiful love song that had me holding my plus one’s hand a little too tightly, and ‘I’m finally Lost’, a coming of age tune, perfectly worded for someone who is too unique in a prejudiced world. Singing along to the second chorus was quite frankly irresistible. So, we all did. Minnie and Johnson readily encouraged audience participation to the point of ad lib – a true testament to their skill and presence.
Let me put my one French word into practice: Encore, Minnie et Johnson, encore!
Minnie & Johnson runs at the Kalk Bay Theatre 28 November – 7 December 2012.