Candy Man

Candy ManI’ve always been partial to a bit of soft shoe shuffle, and it is at this point, about halfway through the first set, that Candy Man wins me over as a stage production. As much about the dancing as singing, Candy Man’s pièce de résistance has to be the choreography, vivaciously performed by Wayne Scott Kermond and his five versatile dancing vaudevillians.

Sammy Davis Jr. was one of the greatest entertainers of his time, with a reputation for someone who could do it all – he was a dancer, a singer, an actor, an impressionist and comedian. He’s no easy act to portray but Kermond is impressive.
 
Davis Jr. became well known as a member of the Rat Pack, performing in films and nightclubs in the 1960s alongside the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. Candy Man celebrates Sammy Davis Junior’s career on stage and screen, from his early start in vaudeville through to his Rat Pack days.
 
In a tribute show anecdotes are to be expected. During the course of the evening Kermond makes the most of the captive audience to give snapshots of Davis Jr’s life, drawing parallels between himself and one of the ultimate song-and-dance men.
 
This would probably have seemed a bit indulgent had it not been for Kermond’s cheeky (albeit it slightly cheesy) wit. However, some one-liners have a comforting familiarity, and are a fitting reflection of the entertainment style in vogue at the time Sammy Davis Jr. was at his peak.
 
Signature tunes such as Lady is a Tramp, Bye Bye Blackbird, Singing in the Rain, Make ‘Em Laugh, Mr Bojangles, and of course, The Candy Man, are all done justice with the backup of a live, big and brassy band.
 
Kermond works hard to earn his keep with the crowd, temporarily abandoning the limelight to chat, and even dance, with the audience. The addition of the children’s choir towards the end of the production for Gonna Build a Mountain is somewhat tokenistic. A tad lacklustre, it detracts from Kermond and the dancers, and is brought into the act too late.
 
Kermond’s humour is not cutting edge, but it isn’t supposed to be. He has personality, and his comic slapstick routines are authentically reproduced. He is an all-round entertainer. The colour and frivolity of the choreography is a highlight and does justice to the concert halls, films and Broadway of the sixties, covering a number of different styles from jive, to tap to Vegas showgirl.
 
Overall the performance succeeds in capturing the show business mood of the time and in being more than just a song and dance routine. It entertains, engages and woos the audience. It is interactive and representative of the nature and style of performing in the Rat pack era. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one leaving the theatre with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.


Candy Man
 
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre | 58 Grote Street, Adelaide
Dates: Tues - Sun, 12 September 2007 - 23 September 2007
Tickets: Adult $39.50, Child $25.50, Concession $35.50
Duration: 2 Hours 20 Minutes
Bookings: www.bass.net.au

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