Theatre Review: Aunty Merle The Musical – Frock And Load, Or The Merle The Merrier


Bruce Dennill

Writer. Reader. Singer. Songwriter. Believer. Likes to learn.

All content by Bruce Dennill first published on pARTicipate, republished with permission.
Bruce Dennill


Aunty Merle The Musical / Directed by Lara Foot / The Mandela, Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

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For a comedian to base a full-length musical on one of the alter egos he dreamed up for his solo shows takes considerable – and this is appropriate given that the alter ego in question is a six foot-plus cross-dresser – balls. It’s one thing to wander offstage for a bit between stand-up sets and come back wearing a frock for a couple of skits. It’s quite another to make the character the pivot of a two-hour story featuring 22 original songs.

Marc Lottering has proved that this unlikely ambition is not only achievable but critically laudable, with the show having had three successful seasons in Cape Town before this venture upcountry. Lara Foot is one of the more respected directors in South Africa, and her sure hand on the helm here ensures that what could easily skate too close to cheesiness clips along at a good rate, generating steady…

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