Calli Thomson graduated from UCT specializing in classical piano and jazz and has made her mark in the entertainment world in everything from cabaret, musicals and children’s theatre to jazz, rock, dance and blues.
She has worked with many of SA’s great entertainers – Taliep Peterson and David Kramer, Anton Stoltz, Steve Hofmeyer, Vicky Samson, Wendy Oldfield and Joseph Clark, to name a few, and has toured nationally with renowned cabaret artists Danielle Pascal, Mynie Grove and Rory Roetenberg.
Calli taught in the jazz department at UCT and lectured at City Varsity Multimedia College in Cape Town for seven years. She and husband guitarist singer from Durban, Barry Thomson, toured nationally on the Barnyard theatre circuit in Roll Over Beethoven, Rock me Amadeus, La Vida, Forever Young and Johnny Plays Guitar before relocating to Durban in 2005.
At the Elizabeth Sneddon theatre she musically directed Guys and Dolls and played keyboards in Vita-award winning show The Guitar That Rocked the World and Young Performers’ ProductionsThe Wiz and Annie. At the Heritage theatre in Hillcrest she musically directed Boy Bands and You’re So Vain and performed in You’re So Vain and Unplugged.
For eight consecutive years she put together backing bands for and played with the international artists invited to the Durban International Blues Festival – the late guitarist/singer Philip Walker in 2008 and 2009, in 2010 blues ladies Liz Mandeville from Chicago and Australian Fiona Boyes, in 2011 Liz Mandeville again and Toronzo Cannon and in 2012 Jimmy D. Lane.
Calli has musically directed and performed in many Gateway Barnyard shows until it’s closure at the end of 2016. Her numerous performances at this theatre include Rock me Amadeus, Forever Young, Mick & Tina, La Vida, Glory Days, Fab Four, Johnny Plays Guitar, Rock Around the Clock, Those Were the Days, Walking in Memphis, Your Momma Don’t Dance, The Boys Are Back in Town, Celtic Rock, Natural Woman, Hollywood Rocks, Rocking all Over the World, Big Band Magic, Viva Las Vegas, Elvis Forever, Broadway Rocks, Route 66, LM Radio and Diamonds & Pearls. She teamed up with seasoned jazz saxophonist Jeff Judge to produce Big Band Magic which is a traditional 20-piece swing big band consisting of Durban’s finest jazz musicians.
Calli has had the privilege of playing keyboards with the KZNPO on several occasions, the first being in “Queen at the Opera”, a tribute to Freddie Mercury and Queen featuring Joseph Clark and also in the musical “Cinderella” staged at the Playhouse in 2011. In 2017 she has played with the KZNPO on several occasions and will be playing in the upcoming annual Starlight Pops in August.
She also musically directed and wrote arrangements for 12-piece ensemble for the popular “Dolphins by Starlight” Christmas and variety concert in December 2012 at Ushaka Marine World which was attended by 1700 people for 5 performances.
Most recently in July she conceptualized, compiled and musically directed a Soul show “Gotta Lotta Soul” at the Rhumbelow theatre with Percy Smith and Marion Loudon.
Calli continues to teach privately, play keyboards and musically direct and perform in theatre shows and play private functions solo, duo or with various ensembles and bands. Duo’s are with hubby guitarist/singer Barry Thomson and saxophonist (Vicky Goddard) de Villier as “Saxadelic” piano and sax duo. Among the ensembles she plays with are “Platform Jazz” 7-piece Dixieland band and “Heels Over Head” all girl Afro jazz band based in Durban.