I had the pleasure, and privilege of attending the opening night of Not the Midnight Mass’ new show, Hot Cross Nuns,currently showing at the Baxter Theatre, last week Wednesday. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Not the Midnight Mass, they are an a-cappella group, hailed as South Africa’s favourite. They’ve been going since the late 80s and mix a lot of humour in their style of singing -although, they do also sing traditional chorals, ballads, and rock songs, all reprised to suit their voices, and their style of singing.

There are only two members of the original group, still in the band, Graham and Christine Weir. The other singers who join them for Hot Cross Nuns are multi-talented and award-winning musician, Amanda Tiffin; multi-award-winning actress, Anthea Thompson; and “theatre heir” and funny-man, Donal Slemon.

Their new show, Hot Cross Nuns, directed by the highly recognised theatre director, Bo Petersen, is running in the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, from 10 May – 4 June 2011, and is definitely something worth seeing. The music is wonderful (which it ought to be, being a musical show); the set, minimalistic, yet effective; the costumes, bright, and help set the tone for the evening; and the lighting, nothing too over-the-top, but yet again something that adds to the mood.

The show, is not just a band of singers, getting on stage to serenade the audience. It is a comedic experience too. There are a few comedy skits that get acted out, and a lot of the songs are absolutely hilarious. There are also a few sombre moments, within the piece, but I think these are good for bringing one, as an audience member, back to Earth.

Watching Hot Cross Nuns was my first Not the Midnight Mass experience. Having somewhat of a cult-following, it was no surprise to see the venue reaching full capacity. I personally, did have a few qualms, with a few things in the show; but apparently these are all part of their particular style.

The one minor problem I had, which could just be a matter of personal taste, was at times, I found the lighting effects a bit too much. This was not done all the time, as I mention previously, it certainly helped set the mood; although from time to time, they could’ve been a bit more modest with lighting.

The main thing I struggled with, in Hot Cross Nuns, and know my partner on the evening (also a Not the Midnight Mass first-timer) also did, was the lack of theme within the show content. The show starts off with a monk-like choral chant, taken from Noah of Cape Town, and then moves into comedy songs, rock songs, soft songs, etc. It was like watching a variety show. A possible theme for this show could’ve been “randomness”, which they then, could have started-off the show with a song that was pretty random, which would in turn set a tone for the rest of the show. I feel safe; however, saying that if you know that you’re going into a cabaret-style show (which you now do know), then you will love it for all it’s worth.

Head down to the Baxter Theatre Centre in Rondebosch, and treat yourself to an evening of great entertainment. Not the Midnight Mass is back, and they’re ready to rock you!

Jonathan Duguid (@theDramaKing)

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