With only days to go before the first preview of the Baxter Theatre Centre‘s Danger in the Dark, the company took to the streets of Cape Town for a photographic feature by Jesse Kramer. The production is a new adaptation of Poison, the 1992 musical written by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen, which Kramer himself has reinvented.
Made possible by the City of Cape Town, Danger in the Dark is a timely response to the critical social issues that plague communities all over the Western Cape. Set in the underbelly of the Cape Flats, the musical unfolds in 1995, when Pamela (played by Alexis Petersen), a social worker who is writing a thesis on drug abuse, meets up with Juanita (Rushney Ferguson), a friend from her school days. When she realises that Juanita is trapped in an abusive relationship with a drug lord, she finds herself drawn into dark and dangerous places and situations as she tried to help her friend escape.
With Kramer at the helm of the production, Camillo Lombard takes up the duties of musical director with Grant van Ster and Shaun Oelf choreographing the show. A 22-strong South African cast and a live band bring to life the painfully beautiful narrative and soaring music.
Bookings are now open through Webtickets, with information about discounted block or schools’ bookings, fundraisers and charities available from Leon van Zyl. Ticket prices range from R100 to R195. The production previews at the Baxter Theatre from 11 – 14 October, opens on 15 October and runs until 2 November. There is an age restriction of 12 years.
David Kramer’s Danger in the Dark, a reworking of the hit musical, Poison, which he and the legendary late Taliep Petersen wrote in the early 1990s and was produced by Renaye Kramer, will premiere at the Baxter Theatre Centre this October. Kramer has written a new book for Danger in the Dark, but he has retained many of the original songs.
Poison was very well received in South Africa, Malaysia and London. The original production premiered in 1992 under the auspices of CAPAB Opera and was first reworked in 1994 for a season produced by Volkswagen Musicactive. A production at the Port Elizabeth Opera House followed in 1995, with another revival, directed by Bobby Heaney, having been staged at the Baxter Theatre in 2004 as part of the Klipfontein Corridor Project.
In the current adaptation of this powerful musical, Kramer has decided to tell the story from the point of view of Pamela, a social worker who is writing her thesis on drug abuse on the Cape Flats. Considering the critical crisis plaguing communities all over the Western Cape, the timing of this production could not be more perfect.
Danger in the Dark unfolds in 1995, when Pamela meets up with Juanita, a friend from her school days. She soon realises that Juanita is trapped in an abusive relationship with a drug lord and she is desperate to help her friend escape. Pamela is drawn into dark and dangerous places and situations, yet she endures against all odds, for the safety and survival of her friend.
Directed by Kramer with assistant director Grant van Ster, the acclaimed creative team for Danger in the Dark is made up of Camillo Lombard (musical director), Patrick Curtis (set and lighting designer), David Classen (sound designer), Widaad Albertus (costume designer), Kirsti Cummings (videographer) and Shaun Oelf and Grant van Ster (choreography).
Kramer has assembled a stellar cast of eight lead performers with a chorus of 14, who dance, sing and play a variety of roles, accompanied by a live band of five musicians.
The cast is led by Alexis Petersen as Pamela, Rushney Ferguson as Juanita, Elton Landrew as Poison, Eldon van der Merwe as Chicco, Tashreeq de Villiers as Lucky, Edith Plaatjies as Mrs Joseph, Loukmaan Adams as Michael and Chad Baai as Shawn. The ensemble comprises Luke Buys, Loreto Cabrera, Lewellyn Afrika, Luke de Kock, Anzio September, Lubabalo Pupu, Rori York Bingham, Nadine Suliaman, Alex Rodkin, Chamonay Anthony, Mekaila Mathys, Crystal Finck, Gabriela Dirkse and Tanzley Jooste.
Grandall Vlotman (conductor and keyboards), Shaun Francke (guitar), Jason Ward (drums and percussion), Yvan Potts (synthesizers) and Kurt Randall (bassist) make up the band.
Made possible by the City of Cape Town, Danger in the Dark previews at the Baxter Theatre from 11 – 14 October, opens on 15 October and runs until 2 November. Ticket prices range from R100 to R195 and booking is now open through Webtickets. For discounted block or schools’ bookings, fundraisers and charities, contact Leon van Zyl. There is an age restriction of 12 years.
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.
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).
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.
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 Storyand 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.