Between songs the cast hardly uttered a word to each other. Instead, a lot of incoherent mumbling was exchanged. As a mode of communication, this amused the crowd immensely, and more importantly it served to throw into sharp relief the crystal clarity of those same voices when singing. Where speech failed to convey meaning, music broke the barriers and transported the audience to a place no language could. They sang in Xhosa, Zulu, English and Afrikaans so at any point someone in the audience would not understand what was being sung. And the point was that it didn’t matter. Music served as a universal language, and its vocabulary was melody and rhythm.
The sheer versatility of the South African musical talent currently available has been vocalised in the dynamic musical, Vocal is Lekka. Taking the audience on a musical journey, the supremely talented crew, including the award-winning Loukmaan Adams alongside Terry Fortune, Moenier Adams, Nur Abrahams, Waseef Piekaan and the multiple-award-winning Bongile Mantsa, weave together a staggering amount of musical genres seamlessly. And all with only a few percussive instruments and their exceptionally flexible voices.
Classics such as ‘Fever’, ‘Reggae Nights’, and ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ were delivered with suave a cappella harmonies and the rhythmic vocal impressions of a number of different instruments. Lead guitar, bass guitar and even saxophone were emulated with remarkable precision and poise. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the crew still managed to throw in nicely choreographed dance routines and slapstick comedy moments.
As entertaining as the show was, it suffered a little on its length. The massive range of genres was impressive, but at times overwhelming, covering rock, swing, jazz, kwaito, reggae, hip hop and contemporary pop to name a few. It would have been a tighter show altogether if the play list had been edited down a little, and the slower songs would have been my first choice to let go.
The majority of time though, myself and the audience were tapping our feet and singing along. I even found myself clapping along to a Justin Bieber song (but don’t tell anyone). The dance moves, harmonies, rhythm and innovative musical arrangement captivated us all and made for a hugely enjoyable evening, from a cast of a musical I predict will gain a lot of interest and popularity.
Vocal is Lekka runs at the Golden Arrow Studio at the Baxter Theatre from 6 December 2011 to 7 January 2012.