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.

Pinelands Players to Welcome Artscape Audiences to the 60s with HAIRSPRAY

Hairspray (Pinelands Players)The Pinelands Players will kick off its 71st year of community theatre with its biggest production ever. The popular am-dram troupe is very excited to be producing Hairspray in 2019. Based on the cult John Waters film, the musical adaptation features a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan and a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Originally founded as St Stephens Pinelands Repertory Society in 1948, the Pinelands Players have produced 143 plays, 43 musicals, 22 pantomimes, 12 supper theatres and nine Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in venues such as St Stephens Hall, The Little Theatre, the Artscape Arena and the Pinelands Town Hall.

The society’s goal has always been to ensure a healthy balance between new, unseasoned talent and experienced performers in order to develop performing skills, transfer knowledge and experience, and mitigate risk.  Hairspray will feature a large cast of more than fifty performers, with many young and highly talented newcomers joining familiar faces in stage. Over the course of the run, four performances will feature understudies in principal roles.

Hairspray is set in Baltimore during the Civil Rights Movement. Tracy Turnblad, a quirky, plus-sized teenager with a plus-sized hairdo has a big dream to dance on the national television sensation, The Corny Collins Show.  Her successful audition transforms her into a local celebrity, but she faces discrimination because of her weight, her choice in friends and her hairdo.  Tracy becomes determined to use her influence to push for social change and racial integration in the show.

With memorable songs such as “Good Morning, Baltimore” and “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” the show is a feel-good comedy with a timeless message that everyone should be treated equally regardless of social, cultural and physical differences. Hairspray is the winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score, as well as four Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical.  A film version, starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Queen Latifah, James Marsden and Christopher Walker, was released in 2007.

Neil Leachman will direct Hairspray, also serving as the production’s musical director. Although this is his first outing in these roles with the Pinelands Players, Leachman is no stranger to the am-dram circuit, having directed You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 2016 and The Producers earlier this year. Laura Bosman and Jared Schaedler will choreograph the production.

Hairspray runs at the Artscape Theatre from 2 – 16 February on Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets, which range in price from R185 and R225, are available through Computicket.

Joanna Weinberg to Unpack PANDORA’S BAG at the Baxter’s Golden Arrow This Week

Pandora's BagActress, songwriter and cabaret artist Joanna Weinberg will return to South Africa after many years to perform her entertaining hit solo cabaret, Pandora’s Bag, at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio for a limited season, starting this week.

A graduate of the University of Cape Town’s drama department, Weinberg was born in London and raised in South Africa before moving to Sydney in Australia. Coming from a family of classical musicians, she has many years of experience in creating and performing theatre, music, cabaret and musical theatre and has created five albums of original songs, two of which are original cast albums of her musicals.

Pandora’s Bag is comic solo cabaret show with keyboard, accordion and handbags. The show is inspired by bags and the women who wear them, covering subject matter like old bags, laundry bags and bag porn. The audience is encouraged to show and tell their own bag stories for a chance to win a prize, while a volunteer bag model will also be selected from the audience, giving theatrical extroverts a chance to shine. Of the production’s run in the Mother City, she says:

I’m so thrilled to be performing in Cape Town again, which is where I began my career. With October being breast cancer awareness month, I felt that this would be a timely show which celebrates both women and the handbag as metaphor for and extension of the female body. I would like to point out that men also love this show, as they have their own baggage.

Weinberg has written thirteen original one-woman shows, including the critically acclaimed Piano Diaries, which is available on iTunes. Much of her theatre training and background is evident in many of the songs with a masterful way of crafting lyrics. Her award winning musical, Lifeforce: the Mother of all Journeys, played the Sydney Fringe in 2013 and her soccer-parent musical, Every Single Saturday, toured New South Wales in 2011. Some of her other original shows include Baroness Bianka’s Bloodsongs, 12 Shoes and Sinksongs, which was the inspiration for a feature film, Goddess, which had a worldwide release in 2012. Her work has been performed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa.

Pandora’s Bag runs at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 23 October to 3 November at 20:15 nightly with Saturday matinees at 17:00. Ticket prices ranges from R160 to R180, with a rate of R130 for block-bookings of ten or more people. Booking is through Webtickets.

Sarafina Sunday is CALLING US HOME at the Alexander Upstairs

Sarafina Live!A brand new edition of Sarafina Magazine: Live! will take the stage at The Alexander Upstairs tonight. Known for bringing womxn’s stories to the forefront, the live editions of the popular online platform are hosted by its founder, Candice Bernstein, and feature discussions with South Africa’s leading womxn artists and arts industry professionals. Audience members are encouraged to engage in the discussion through a Q&A session at the end of the talkback.

Tonight’s Sarafina Magazine: Live! – the fifth and final event of its kind for 2018 – shines a spotlight on Calling Us Home, an original South African musical that impressively features an almost entirely female creative team. The panel features the show’s composer, Alice Gilham alongside its director, Magdalene Minnaar, and set designer, Nadine Minnaar. Leading lady Danielle Bitton also appears in the production.

All funds raised from ticket sales will go towards ensuring the longevity and expansion of the vital womxn narrative-driven platform. Tickets cost R90 if booked and prepaid online via the Alexander Bar’s website or R100 if paid on collection at the bar. The Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre is situated at 76 Strand Street in the Cape Town city centre.

Three Times the Musical Comedy on Stage at the Alexander Upstairs

50 Shades of Fairy TalesThree fringe musical theatre offering are lined up for The Alexander Upstairs over the next three months, with the first of those shows due to close this weekend.

Running until tomorrow, 30 September, at 19:00, 50 Shades of Fairytales stars Titilayo Adedokun under Heike Brunner‘s direction. A whimsical and quirky song revue, 50 Shades of Fairytales depicts the journey of two women who evolve through their personal experiences of love, its challenges and its consequences. The show features a collection of witty and thought-provoking songs that will leave audiences laughing, crying and identifying with the characters.

Die KoningsDie Konings, which runs from 22 – 27 October at 19:00, features texts by Louis Roux and the company, and music by Talita Beyl, with direction by Andrico Goosen. In addition to the fact that Die Konings is the newest and hottest thing in the Afrikaans music industry, they are also very talented – or so they believe. This cabaret draws on the traditions of drag and improvisational comedy, with Anoecha Krüger, Marelize Viljoen and Elisha Zeeman using male alter egos to create a satire dealing with sex, religion, politics and everything in between. The audience’s contribution promises to make each show a unique experience.

The Good The Bad and the FuglyFinally, from 21 November – 1 December, The Good, the Bad and the Fugly returns to the Alexander Upstairs. Inspired by true South African stories that seem too ridiculous to be true, this tongue-in-cheek musical comedy explores social interactions behind the safety of our screens. Exposing all the hilarious consequences of online personas, strong opinions and bad behaviour, this production promises to give audiences an opportunity to laugh at themselves with three women, three social media accounts and three times the drama. Written by Louise Newman, who performs in the show with Lee van Der Merwe and Chané OttoThe Good, the Bad and the Fugly is directed by Nathalie Vijver and sets out to embody the complexities of being a South African in today’s social networking fiasco.

Tickets for 50 Shades of Fairytales cost R120 if booked and prepaid online or R130 if paid on collection at the bar, with tickets for Die Konings (which carries an age restriction of no under 16s) costing R100 if booked and prepaid online or R110 if paid on collection at the bar. Tickets for The Good, the Bad and the Fugly cost R90 if booked and prepaid online or R100 if paid on collection at the bar. The Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre is situated at 76 Strand Street in the Cape Town city centre.

Mish Mash Media Opens NOT JUST MUSICALS at TAAC

Not Just MusicalsAfter the huge success of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, which ran to capacity houses at both the Galloway Theatre and the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Mish Mash Media presents their latest production, Not Just Musicals.

Not Just Musicals, with musicians Regina R Malan and Riaan Oppelt, is a a fresh and new revue that explores the life of an artist and what happens when she can no longer make a living from her art.  What does she do?

Ellen has always loved living the life of a performer and can’t see herself doing anything else. Well she can, however she does not want to. But when a series of events come into play and she is forced to face the unvarnished truth, everything changes.

Not Just Musicals will be performed at Theatre Arts Admin Collective on 28 and 30 September at 19:00. Tickets cost R100 and can be booked online TixSA or reserved online directly from Theatre Arts Admin Collective.