There is no doubt in my mind that Godfrey Johnson is talented. A talented pianist, a talented vocalist and a talented performer. All this almost goes without saying seeing as he is a multi-award winning cabaret artist, in constant demand on stages across South Africa. His latest show is a marathon of song and almost dance (foot tapping counts, right?) and for that alone he deserves praise. The only time there is a pause between or in the middle of songs is when he stops, breaks the fourth wall, and indulges in some audience banter, which always seems just as amusing to him as it does to his audience.
On opening night Godfrey Johnson gave such a lively performance that at times it was hard to believe that the ensemble before me was simply a man and his piano. But that really is the extent of the show: nothing more and nothing less than a man playing the piano. This also, regardless of whether it was planned or not, ties in very whimsically with Johnson’s rendition of ‘Piano Man.’
Johnson’s song choice varies enormously from ‘When Doves Cry’ by Prince to the far more upbeat and playful ‘Masochism Tango’ by Tom Lehrer. Not all credit goes to the songs however because his dramatic change from piano to forte is positively theatrical.
‘Modern Man’ is an interesting insight into what a 40-something year old thinks a modern man is about. The jokes are a bit clichéd but it cannot be denied that there is truth in what Godfrey Johnson sings about. If the howls of laughter and the singing along (“Cos I’m a modern man! Ah! Ah! Yes, I’m a modern man”) were anything to go by then the song, which Johnson penned himself, was a crowd favourite.
On opening night Johnson obliged two encores, showing an energy not only remarkably admirable but the perfect indication of the success of the evening.
Aisha-Bibi van der Ross
Mr.Johnson Presents is showing at Kalk Bay Theatre from the 9 to 26 October.