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Posted on: Monday, 3 May 2010

Unforgettable ‘The Nat King Cole Story’ – a review

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Nathaniel Adams Cole was born and had lived his life some 20 years before I was even born, however he has still managed to influence my life quite considerably. Who is this person you might be asking yourself – then let me give you a few clues. I first heard this magically velvet voice in my late grandfather’s lounge when he put on a record for me to listen to. Immediately I was captured by the music, the melody and the sounds of Nat King Cole.

My grandfather  taught me a number of things first and foremost he taught me to live, love and dance passionately and since his recent passing I have been reminded of many things – one of which being my slight obsession with the music of Nat King Cole … you see, this was some of the first music I can remember hearing as a young girl as I stood on my grandfather’s feet as he taught me some of my first dance steps.

Last night I accompanied my parents to The Theatre on the Bay, in Camps Bay. This is such a fantastic theatre and with only ten rows of seats it is an intimate experience and you really feel a part of the production. The little Theatre often has wonderful shows and plays on stage and it is a unique theatre because you are able to take your drinks in with you. This encourages a more relaxed atmosphere and the audience is often called on for a response which is generally well received.

I was once again transported into another world as only the theatre can do. We went to see Unforgettable ‘The Nat King Cole Story’ and wow what a show. Monroe Kent III played the roles of Cole, his father, sidekick and even wife and was accompanied by three musicians to tell this story.

Kent is an acclaimed performer and has performed this show on the American tour, West End and Far East tour and has been performing for audiences at this theatre since 14 April. I am sad that I was not able to see the performance earlier as the final performance in on 1 May and I’m not able to get more people to see this show.

What a life Nat King Cole had, it was not an easy one and he worked hard, however his life was short as he died at the very early age of 45 on 15 February 1965. I found the first half a little bit laboured and would have liked a bit more singing, however the band and Kent delivered in the second half with some of my favourite songs sung. I found myself shedding more than a few tears in the final number and was quite sad when the lights of the theatre went up.

If this show comes back to the city or if you see it advertised in your town then I recommend you go and see it as Cole had such an interesting life and his story gives you another perspective on some of his well known numbers. If nothing else you get to hear his wonderful music and your toes can tap to the tune of “Straighten Up and Fly Right”, “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66”, “Walking my Baby Back Home” or some of the ballads as only Cole could do “Smile”, “Mona Lisa” and “A Blossom Fell”.

Coles music reaches far and wide and still more than 40 years after his death he has a place in our music history. As my dad always says art is timeless.

To see whats showing at Theatre on the Bay visit the website at: theatreonthebay.co.za/

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Tania Stephenson


Tania loves to cook and create magic in the kitchen for family and friends (or even just herself). Be it finding a new recipe or making a tried and tested dish from her recipe folder - the kitchen is her sanctuary. Find her hanging out with friends round the braai or curled up on the couch reading the latest crime drama. With a spring in her step and a song in her heart you’ll find her supporting local artists in theatre, music and dance – from a hip hop competition or the latest musical on stage at Artscape in Cape Town. Enjoying all things culture she likes to share her experiences and delights with those around her.

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