Classy Makeover for Simon and Garfunkel in HERE’S TO YOU

Fall in love with Simon and Garfunkel all over again in Here’s to You, a dynamic and uplifting musical journey through more than twenty classic hits! Expect to hear all the hits, including “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Sound of Silence,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Mrs Robinson,” and “Graceland.”

Under the direction of Timothy le Roux, the show features thrillingly fresh yet faithful interpretations of Simon and Garfunkel’s evergreen songs, blending nostalgia and imagination, so that different generations, young and old, can discover the magic of the duo’s folk-rock music as if for the very first time.

Here’s to You is performed by a stellar all-South African cast of eight talented singers who all play musical instruments. Under the musical direction of Wessel Odendaal, the cast is lead by Josh Ansley on guitar with Ashleigh Butcher on banjo, guitar and ukelele, Daniel Geddes on keyboards, Hanna So on piano, violin and cello, Justin Swartz on guitar and vocal percussion, Phindile Dube on percussion and Sanli Jooste on cello.

The production runs at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre from 5 – 28 July 2019, with performances at 20:00 from Wednesdays to Saturdays, as well as at 16:00 on Saturdays and 15:00 on Sundays. Tickets are available from R100 through Computicket.

Richard O’Brien’s ROCKY HORROR SHOW Set to Do the Time Warp Again on SA Stages from December

Rocky Horror 2018Pieter Toerien and Howard Panter will present a new production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show on South African stages, with seasons of the legendary musical extravaganza set to play the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town from 6 December 2019 – 12 January 2020 and the Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg from 17 January – 1 March.

The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée, Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank’n’Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house whilst on their way to visit their favourite college professor. It’s an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits. The Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party, which famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music while encouraging audience participation meaning, of course, getting dressed in the most outrageous fancy dress.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the smash hit show features all of the famous musical numbers which have made The Rocky Horror Show such a huge hit for over four decades, including “Sweet Transvestite”, “Science Fiction/Double Feature”, “Dammit Janet” and, of course, the timeless floor-filler, “The Time-Warp.”

The local cast stars Craig Urbani as Dr Frank’n’Furter and Kate Normington as the Narrator, with Anthony Downing, Marlee van der Merwe, Stefania du Toit, Zac Hendrikz, Jarryd Nurden, Jessica Sole, Usisipho Nteyi, Robin Timm and Sean Louw completing the company.

The Rocky Horror Show first began life in 1973 before an audience of just 63 people in the Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs. It was an immediate success and transferred to the Chelsea Classic Cinema, before going on to run at the Kings Road Theatre from 1973 – 1979 and the Comedy Theatre in the West End from 1979 – 1980. In 1975, it was transformed into a film called The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This film adaptation took over $135 million at the box office and is still shown in cinemas around the world more than 40 years after its premiere. The stage show itself has been performed worldwide in more than 30 countries and has been translated into over 20 languages.

Ready to thrill you with fun and naughty moments, The Rocky Horror Show is the boldest bash of them all. Promising to be bigger and better than any production ever seen before on South African stages, The Rocky Horror Show is sure to have local audiences waiting in actici… pation as opening night draws nearer. Bookings are through Computicket.

Afrikaans Cabaret PSALTER Headlines Musical Offerings at the Alexander Bar

PsalterLen-Barry Simons will be back on stage at the Alexander Bar in the Wessel Pretorius-scripted, Psalter, an Afrikaans cabaret that debuted at the intimate Mother City theatre venue last year.

Psalter takes its name from the book of Psalms and is a collection of growing-up memories of a Gaga worshiper, a disciple of Nina Simone and an envoy of the moon in kitsch angel wings. It is also an ode to three sisters, Greta, Joan and Bettie, each named after a silvery goddess, trying to cherish a child through the changing seasons. Christopher Petrie serves as the accompanist for the show, which runs from 4 – 8 June.

Also on offer at the venue for fans of local musical theatre performance are two burlesque revues, (Her)Story on 31 May and Fetish and Feathers on 14 June as well as a tribute show to Aretha Franklin from 4 Tons of Fun on 1 June.

Bookings for all of these productions can be made online at The Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre’s website. As usual, tickets bought online are on sale at a discounted price.

LAMTA Students to Dance the Night Away in SILVER SCREEN

Silver ScreenThe Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy – or LAMTA, as it is fondly known – is delighted to announce its first stage production at Theatre on the Bay. Silver Screen is inspired by music from some of cinema’s most timeless classics and modern blockbusters and serves as a showcase of South Africa’s freshest young talent.

Choreographed by established leaders in the South African dance industry – including Adele Blank, Brigitte Reeve, Hope Maimane, Michelle Reid, Duane Alexander, Ilona Frege, Ashley Searle, Robin van Wyk and Sven-Eric Müller – this production promises to be a celebration of powerful and exciting dance to some of your favourite movie music hits.

The Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy was recently established on the top floor of Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay with the primary aim of training triple threat students to become competitive working artists in today’s theatre industry. LAMTA is a partnership between musical theatre performers Anton Luitingh and Duane Alexander and theatre impresario, Pieter Toerien.

Tickets for Silver Screen, which runs from 5 – 8 June, cost R100 and are available through Computicket.

Musical Theatre Nominees to Hit the High Notes at 54th Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards

LANGARM Poster

With two weeks to go until the curtain rises on the 54th Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards at the Artscape Opera House, it is time for the South African Theatre Archive to offer its congratulations to the musical theatre nominees that hit the high notes in several categories awarded by the awards programme for their work in 2019. The Fleur du Cap Theatre awards are regarded amongst the most valued and prestigious in the South African performing arts industry.

The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards are sponsored by the Fleur du Cap wine brand. At inception in 1965, the awards were known as the Three Leaf Awards, becoming the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards in 1978 to celebrate one of Distell’s leading wine brands. The panel of judges, chaired by a non-voting chairperson, is made up largely of local critics, journalists, writers and drama educators and comprises Africa Melane, Dr Beverley Brommert, Eugene Yiga, Lwando Scott, Marina Griebenow, Maurice Carpede, Peggy Mongoato, Tracey Saunders and Dr Wayne Muller.

Nominees and winners are chosen from productions performed at professional theatre venues in and around Cape Town. Theatre practitioners are recognised for acting, directing, staging and technical ability. For musical theatre productions and opera, the casts on opening night are considered. The full list of nominees per category is available on the Fleur du Cape website.

Matilda

The outstanding production of Matilda the Musical (produced by Pieter Toerien Productions and GWB Entertainment) earned a nomination for Best Production, alongside Endgame, Curse of the Starving Class, Kudu and Womb of Fire. The production collected a further ten nominations, including three in the category of Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Musical or Music Theatre Show: Bethany Dickson, who offered a masterclass in emotion as Miss Honey; Claire Taylor, who played the deliciously dreadful Mrs Wormwood with style; and Nompumelelo Mayiyane, whose presence as the endearing librarian, Mrs Phelps, left a lasting impression on local audiences.

Further acting nominations were garnered by Cameron Seear (Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show) as Bruce Bogtrotter, the character that kicks off one of the flagship numbers of the show, “Revolting Children,” as well as Ryan de Villiers (Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show) for his astounding musical theatre debut as Miss Trunchbull and Kitty Harris (Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Musical or Music Theatre Show) for her memorable turn as Matilda.

In the design categories, nods were given to Rob Howell (Best Costume Design and Best Set Design), Simon Baker (Best Sound Design) and Hugh Vanstone (Best Lighting Design).

Original South African works also earned their fair share of nominations, with Tsotsi the Musical receiving eight nominations, and Calling Us Home and Langarm three apiece. The lack of writing nominations for any of these new productions perhaps reflects the long journey ahead for local musical theatre pieces before they can hold their own as dramatic works in the South African theatre landscape.

Tsotsi the Musical, however, already has one award in the bag, with Janni Younge and Craig Leo having earned the single nomination in the Best Puppetry Design category. The strongly designed production will also compete for Best Costume Design (Noluthando Lobese Moropa), Best Sound Design (Marcel Bezuidenhout) and Best Set Design (Michael Mitchell and Neil Coppen). The balance of the nominations were for Kgomotso Matsunyane as Miriam and Thembisile Ntaka as Adedola (both for Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Musical or Music Theatre Show), Msizi Njapha as Boston (for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show) and Mxolisi (Zuluboy) Majozi as Tsotsi (for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show).

Calling Us Home

The best hope for Calling Us Home winning an award is the luminous Lynelle Kenned (Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Musical or Music Theatre Show), who played Grace in this second iteration of the production that debuted as Calling Me Home in Johannesburg. Conroy Scott (who played Ivan) and Musanete Sakupwanya (who played Nelson) received nominations for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show and Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show respectively.

The strongest contender from Langarm is Elton Landrew, the sole nominee from the show in the Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show category. His nuanced performance as Eddie mined David Kramer’s script and score for both comedy and pathos. In the category for Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Musical or Music Theatre Show, Kim Louis, who played Dinah and returned to the professional stage following two decades out of the spotlight, will go head-to-head against Rushney Ferguson, who stepped into her first leading lady role as Angelina in the production.

West Side Story 2015-2018

Earning nominations as replacements in returning productions were Carmen Pretorius, as Maria in The Sound of Music, for Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Musical or Music Theatre Show; Kevin Hack as Tony in West Side Story, for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show. Dueling it out in the category for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Musical or Music Theatre Show will be Daniel Mpilo Richards as Bernardo in West Side Story and Desmond Dube as Pop in King Kong.

A further musical theatre production, Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer’s Alice in Wonderland, has been nominated in the category for Best Theatre Production for Children and Young People.

This year’s ceremony will take place on Sunday, 10 March at 17:30, promising to offer an evening celebrating Vintage theatre and wines. Mbongeni N. Mtshali will direct the ceremony, with José Dias serving as musical director. Africa Melane, returns to host the evening with a variety of co-presenters who have been recipients of the Innovation in Theatre and Encore Awards in the past decade. Winners are chosen from productions performed at professional theatre venues in and around Cape Town. The winners of the Lifetime Achievement and Innovation in Theatre awards will also be named at the ceremony.

Tickets for the ceremony are available at R250 per person. Bookings can be made at online at Computicket, by phone on 0861 915 8000, or in person at any Shoprite Checkers outlet as well as the Artscape Box Office on 021 410 9838 and Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.

Time to go INTO THE WOODS at Theatre on the Bay

PInto the Woodsieter Toerien Productions and KickstArt Theatre will present James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at Theatre on the Bay, starting 30 January. Proclaimed as a sleek and sexy beast of a musical, Into the Woods is by turns moody, magical, witty and wise, and promises to offer the exhilarating theatrical experience that audiences have come to expect from Sondheim, the co-creator of musical masterpieces such as Sweeney Todd and West Side Story.

Into the Woods follows the trials and adventures of a baker (Earl Gregory) and his wife (Jessica Sole), whose paths cross with a witch (Kate Normington) and a host of of well-known fairy-tale characters, including Cinderella (Haylea Heyns), Rapunzel (LJ Neilson), Jack (Graham Wicks) and Little Red Riding Hood (Megan Rigby) as they all go into the deep and dark woods on separate quests that intersect with sometimes amusing, sometimes alarming results.

But Into the Woods is no children’s tale. The musical is is a wicked and wonderful cautionary fairy tale for adults that will delight and haunt audiences as it explores what it means to be human, to long for something other, to wish for something more than what you have, and to deal with the inevitable loss and the terrible beauty that this journey through the world offers us.

The show features a dazzling score, with ravishing melodies and seductive rhythms. Boasting one of the cleverest and most complex set of lyrics ever written for musical theatre, this is Sondheim at his very best, offering South African audiences a very rare opportunity to revel in his wisdom and originality.

Directed by Steven Stead and designed by Greg King, the production will have musical  supervision by Drew Rienstra, costume design by Neil Harris and lighting design by Tina le Roux. The company is rounded out by  Dianne Simpson as Cinderella’s Stepmother and Granny, Sarah Richard as Florinda, Ashleigh Harvey as Lucinda, Candice Van Litsenborgh as Jack’s Mother, Zak Hendricks as The Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince, as Rapunzel, Nathan Kruger as Rapunzel’s Prince, Schoeman Smit as The Steward and Michael Richard as The Narrator and The Mysterious Man.

Into the Woods is booking through 2 March, with tickets ranging in price from R175 – R375 available at Computicket. Providing both intellectual and emotional satisfaction, Into the Woods has all the allure of the fairy tale. Both mysterious and whimsical, it tells of love, loss, desire, hope – and revenge. Although its roots are deeply planted in old folk tales, Into the Woods offers a rich harvest of ideas – the kind of production that appears only once in a blue moon.

Flagship NAF Musical Productions for 2019 On Sale

Brett BaileyFor the first time ever, audiences will have the chance in December to snap up early tickets to some of the flagship productions at the 2019 National Arts Festival in Makhanda, which will be held from 27 June to 7 July next year. Two of these have connections to the musical theatre scene, a new production by Brett Bailey and a programme to be performed by the Drakensberg Boys Choir.

Brett Bailey’s new work, Samson, promises to be a highly theatrical, visual and musical work with a sharp political sensibility. The piece markets itself as a lyrical, sharp-edged, apocalyptic dance-music-theatre piece, based on the popular Old Testament hero myth of loss, betrayal and rage, and interpreted on a rich visual canvas, with haunting choreography, soaring vocals and live electronica. It is set in a dystopian present in which a rapacious and supremacist master race feeds off the labour of the downtrodden masses.

Performed with opera, choral singing, punchy animated video scenography, black humour, brooding swagger and the booming sub-bass of dub-step music, Samson is a young man with a heroic mission in an era of intolerance and polarisation. Channelling the fury of his oppressed people, he inflicts terror on the population that he holds accountable for their subjugation. As the body count mounts and war surges, Delilah – an ambivalent enemy agent – seduces and ritually castrates him. His brutal punishment in the detention facilities of the authorities spurs him to an act of suicidal devastation.

The internationally acclaimed works of Brett Bailey and Third World Bunfight often have a strong musical element to them. These include productions such as Ipi Zombi? and MedEia as well as a re-interpretation of the Giuseppe Verdi composed opera, Macbeth. Samson, which will head abroad following its season on the main festival, also features three Standard Bank Young Artist alumni: choreographer Vincent Mantsoe (Dance, 1996), Shane Cooper (Jazz, 2013) and Bailey himself (Theatre, 2001). This a fortunate stroke of serendipity is a fitting in a year that celebrates 35 years of Standard Bank’s sponsorship of these awards. Cooper will is create the score for Samson.

Drakensburg Boys ChoirThe internationally renowned yet proudly local Drakensberg Boys Choir will perform a selection of classical, African Gospel and choral pop music. This will be followed by their unique, semi-theatrical presentation of indigenous South African music, which centres around the theme of Water=Life, as well as their renditions of chart-topping pop songs and gospel numbers. The choir will incorporate songs and music from Xhamissa into their single-set programme as a concertante version.

The choir is a unique institution with a 51-year history, the calibre of their old boys speaking for itself. One alumnus, Terence Bridgett, has made several appearances in local musical theatre productions, playing the Pharoah in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, the Fox in Pinocchio, and Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar, also performing in Saturday Night Fever. Another former chorister, Dawid Boverhoff, has found himself in the role of musical director for shows like Heidi and Avenue Q.

Only one performance per show is available for early bookings: 27 June at 16:00 for Samson and 1 July at 18:00 for the Drakensberg Boys Choir Live in ConcertAll other shows in these respective seasons will open for full bookings early in 2019. An excellent Christmas present or “just because”, these early bookings are a great reason to get planning for the 2019 National Arts Festival. For a bit of help with these plans, the National Arts Festival website has comprehensive information on how to get there and where to stay.

MATILDA THE MUSICAL to Play Cape Town this Festive Season

MatildaPieter Toerien and GWB Entertainment’s highly anticipated production of Matilda the Musical will play the Artscape Opera House from 9 December to 13 January. Billed as perfect entertainment for the whole family, the musical is currently entering the final leg of its Johannesburg run, where it has played to capacity houses at the Teatro at Montecasino, prior to its transfer to the Mother City next month.

Based on the much-loved 1988 Roald Dahl novel, Matilda the Musical tells the tale of a precocious young girl who uses her extraordinary powers to overcome obstacles caused by her family and school, also helping her teacher to find her way in life. The musical features a book by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.

The coveted title role of Matilda is shared by three uniquely talented young Capetonian  girls: Lilla Fleischmann, Kitty Harris and Morgan Santo. The young starlets are accompanied by Cape Town actors Ryan de Villers as the gigantic holy terror, Miss Trunchbull, and Bethany Dickson as Matilda’s devoted teacher, Miss Honey. Stephen Jubber and Claire Taylor play Mr and Mrs Wormwood, Matilda’s awful parents, and the lovable librarian Mrs Phelps is played by Nompumelelo Mayiyane.

The adult company is comprised of Jasmin Colangelo, Katrina Dix, Sinead Donnelly, Michael Gardiner, Kent Jeycocke, Weslee Lauder, Carlo McFarlane, Kenneth Meyer, Daniel Parrott, Adrianna Patlaszynska, Jonathan Raath and Logan Timbre.

Matilda the Musical. Photo Credit: Christian KotzePlaying the other pupils at Crunchem Hall Primary School  are Jack Fokkens, Keeran Isaacs, Robyn Ivey, Joshua LeClair, Levi Maron, Ipeleng Merafe, Megan Saayman, Taylor Salgado, Cameron Seear and Zac Gabriel Werb.

Matilda the Musical premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, playing to sold-out audiences from November 2010 to January 2011. Capturing the imagination of young and old alike, the Royal Shakespeare Company transferred the production to London’s West End in October 2011 where the show continues to play to sold-out houses at the Cambridge Theatre. The production also played a season of 1 555 performances at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway.

The production reproduces Matthew Warchus’s orignal staging, as well as Peter Darling’s choreography, Rob Howell’s sets and costumes, Hugh Vanstone’s lighting and Simon Baker’s sound design. Additional music and musical supervision for the production are by Christopher Nightingale.

Tickets for the Cape Town season of Matilda the Musical are available online from Computicket or by phone via the the Artscape box office on 021 410 9838. Performances take place on Tuesdays through Sundays, with tickets ranging in price from R100 – R520. No children under five years of age will be admitted at evening performances.

LANGARM Takes to the Floor at The Fugard

LANGARM PosterLangarm, the latest musical created by the award-winning David Kramer, opens tonight at The Fugard Theatre for the festive season. With Kramer directing the production, musical direction and arrangements have been created for the production by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder. Grant van Ster choreographs.

A story of love and intrigue, Langarm is set in the world of Cape Town’s ballroom dance culture in the 1960s. When the recently widowed Dinah Levin invites her nephew Jeff to help her manage her late husband’s Canterbury Hotel, he meets Angelina, a lovely young ballroom dancer who asks him to partner her in The Swaziland Ballroom Championships. Seeing this as an opportunity to humiliate his ex-fiancé, who has just dumped him, Jeff agrees, even though he will risk arrest by flouting the laws of apartheid-era South Africa.

Currently booking through 31 January 2019, Langarm will be performed from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 20:00 with a matinee performance on Saturdays at 15:00.  From Sunday 16 December, there will be an additional Sunday matinee at 15:00. There will be a Monday night performance at 20:00 on New Year’s Eve, 31 December 2018. Tickets ranging from R150 to R260 can be booked through the Fugard Theatre’s box office on 021 461 4554 or through the Fugard Theatre’s website.

Only One Week Left to Discover the Simple Secret of THE LITTLE PRINCE

The Little PrinceThe Johannesburg run of Van Rensburg Theatrical’s The Little Prince at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Studio Theatre finishes its season on 25 November, leaving audiences in the city of gold only one week to discover the simple secrets of this new adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic novella.

Aimed at teenagers from 13 years old and upward, this musical adaptation of the much-loved tale of a pilot and a young alien prince features a book by Elizma Badenhorst and music and lyrics by Wessel Odendaal.

Leaving the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, the little prince’s personal journey culminates in a voyage to Earth where he learns the oddities of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. Van Rensburg Theatrical hopes that the production will be a great conversation starter for parents and their children about the meaning of life.

The Little Prince is performed by Caitlin Salgado, Nieke Lombard and Christelle van Graan and is told with the help and wonderment of shadow and Japanese Bunraku puppetry. Tickets are available through Computicket.