3 GEN VARIETY SHOW
The Dunstan Playhouse. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 18-19 2014
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Warren, Alexander and Wayne Kermond|
Times change. Styles come. Styles go but star talent never dies. It may lose its limber but The Kermond 3 Gen Variety Show is living proof of enduring brightness and the power to light up an audience’s life and bring a smile to their lips. 124 years of professional show biz sparkles in the song and dance of father, Warren Kermond, son Wayne Scott Kermond and grandson Alexander (Zan) Kermond. As their opening number attests There’s No Business Like Show Business and they should know. The remarkable 78 year old Warren comes from two generations of theatre family, and he himself played the old Tivoli and shared the stage with legendary comedian Roy Rene (Mo). Son Wayne shook the hand of Sammy Davis Junior, who congratulated him on his dancing and said that the business need cats like him. What chance did he have? And as for Zan, the lithe and limber Tap Dog, well, his dye was cast from the time he was “ born in a trunk.”
There is schmaltz and schmooze in this showcase of song and dance with corny gags, some sleight of hand and slapstick routines. For just over an hour and backed by a three piece band on piano, double bass and drums father, son and grandson strut their stuff with highlights from their years upon the stage in a performance that revives the very best of vaudeville in an atmosphere of family affection that swamps the audience with admiration, exhilaration and sentiment. There is a sense of a fading art in their reminiscence, of the need to preserve an entertainment that never sought to do more than delight and wipe away the woes. Throughout the cavalcade of songs from Gerschwin (Crazy For You) to Hamlisch (Chorus Line); from Harnick and Bock (Fiddler On The Roof) to Bricusse and Newley (Stop The World I Want To Get Off) the three Kermonds take the chiefly senior audience through a century of love and pain, struggle and success, laughter and tears and the joy that a song and dance man brings to the world.
Titanium hips cannot quell Warren’s tap routines. Wayne’s forward and backward flips might take his breath away for the higher registers of Kiss Today Goodbye from Chorus Line but he shows what he’s got with What Kind of Fool Am I from Stop The World I Want To Get Off. Zan, the youngest and the tallest of the three is able to put on the Ritz as well as any and his time with Dean Perry’s Tap Dogs has made him a full- fledged Candy Man along with his Dad and Pop.
Audiences who recognize the songs will feel impelled to sing along or tap their feet to the beat. There is an infectious joy to this show, and a sentimental tribute to the song and dance and crazy banter and magic of the old days of Vaudeville. Musical Comedy, Tap and Showbiz have been the lifeblood of three generations of the male members of the Kermond Family. We don’t get to see the women who also played their part in a dynasty of song and dance. At the matinee performance before a house of senior gen audiences, the transitions could have been slicker and the banter quicker, but this did nothing to detract from the sheer thrill of seeing these three top- notch hoofers tap their stuff and sell the songs the audience loved to hear.
The Kermond 3 Gen Variety Show is a feel-good tribute to far more than the shining talents of the three performers. It is an accolade for the arts of Vaudeville and Variety and the need for the Candy Man to be a part of our lives as he and she leave their footprints in the sands of time.