La Passione – Fiat 500 brings the house down at Monte Casino


It floated down the River Po in Turin. It was tossed into the grey skies of England courtesy of the London Eye. It burrowed through the bowels of the earth on board the Berlin Underground. And in Johannesburg, it brought the house down…

Saturday’s once-off performance of La Passione, a musical tribute by Jaci de Villiers, Jocelyn Broderick and Wikus du Toit to the Fiat 500, was simply Bellissimo! The capacity crowd of 2000 that packed Monte Casino’s Teatro were overcome by the spectacle – this was no dour, traditional, speech-and-slide-presentation, car reveal. Instead it was a celebration of love, life, nostalgia and renewal.

Craig Urbani as the suave Italian, Antonio, took complete command of the stage. His ability to deftly switch from comedian to dancer to singer was humbling. When he serenaded the old Cinquecento with “Time to say Goodbye”, there were a good few moist eyes in the audience. In complete contrast, he elicited fits of hysterical laughter when he cavorted onto the stage in true ‘Jaggerian’ fashion and preened and posed his way through The Stones’ “Start me up”.

Aubrey Poo’s crooning rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s get it on” was nothing short of masterful. And, who would have thought that tiny Tarryn Sudder, one of the 500 Sirens, could so powerfully belt out the Queen hit “Somebody to love”?

But, it would be remiss not to mention some of the other performances. Celeste and Shaun’s table duet dance sequence – and I’m now running out of superlatives – was astonishing to say the least. That such speed, grace and agility can be worked into a little jiggy around a table is testament to the talent of choreographer Sean Bovim.

Also inhabiting the how-the-hell-did-they-do-that? arena were the two specialty sequences – the strength and the rope acts. What these human beings (and I use this term with a slight tinge of reserve) can do with their bodies borders on the absurd.

But, the true star of the show was the ubiquitous little Fiat 500 – to coin an Antonio phrase, his ‘belladonna’. In true Latin style he was a little over-enthusiastic when he gleefully broadcasted that the Cinquecento is in showrooms right now. (The reality is that fans will have to wait a few days, as the official Cinquecento open day at Fiat dealers countrywide is Saturday, 5th July. The press ride ‘n drive will take place a few days prior to this on the 26th June.)

Undoubtedly, though, the most poignant moment of the event was when the 70-odd Fiat staff members led by Managing Director, Giorgio Gorelli, were invited on stage to pay tribute to the 500 and to the cast of La Passione. Gorelli said afterwards: “I was so proud to stand up there with this dynamic team that have given 500% of themselves to take Fiat to where it is today. Bravissimi!”