Rehearsals for The Producers, the hilarious Mel Brooks musical comedy, are underway at Artscape, ahead of the productions’s first season at Theatre On The Bay. Brought to local audiences by Pieter Toerien Productions, the musical is directed by Joseph Pitcher, with musical direction by Garth Tavares and choreography by Duane Alexander. Mila De Biaggi serves as assistant choreographer.
In The Producers, Max Bialystock (a role which will be played by Alan Committie), the onetime king of Broadway producers who is hungry to strike it rich, and Leo Bloom (Richard White), an accountant with dreams of someday becoming a theatre producer, discover that they could get richer by producing a flop than a hit and start by finding the worst show, worst director, and worst actors. When their new production, Springtime for Hitler, turns out to be a smash success, the plan is thrown off and the partners lives are thrown into chaos.
Below, Dean Roberts provides a glimpse into the rehearsal room, where the production team is putting together what promises to be a hilarious reading of this international smash hit musical theatre hit.
The company of The Producers is rounded out by Raquel Munn, Terence Bridgett, Schoeman Smit, Earl Gregory, Devin Butterworth, Nathan Muller, Philip Schnetler, Joshua van Niekerk, Nicolette Fernandes, Michele La Trobe, Chloe Perling, Nadine Suliaman and Claire Glover. The creative team includes costume designer Penny Simpson and set designer Michael Mitchell, with Alyssa Harrison, assisted by Shakir Bester, handling the stage management.
The South African tour of The Producers kicks off at Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town on 4 February, with a season to follow at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre and Studio from 3 April. Bookings are through Computicket.
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.
Pieter 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.
Pieter 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.
Playing 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.
Two musicals are available as part of the Theatrics Club package celebrating the re-opening of Pieter Toerien’s Theatre on the Bay: Matilda, which will play the Artscape, and Into the Woods, which will play the now fully revamped popular Camps Bay theatre itself. Further shows in the season include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Play That Goes Wrong, The Mousetrap and 4 Love.
Pieter Toerien Productions’s Theatrics Club is all about audiences, affording loyal theatre patrons the very best shows in town at the best possible prices. Becoming a member of the Theatrics Club allows audiences to receive an amazing 50% discount on their tickets for all shows in the new season of six shows. To subscribe, members need to select and book for a minimum of four shows. Theatrics Club members will also receive exclusive offers for forthcoming productions from Pieter Toerien Productions.
Visit the Theatrics Club page at Pieter Toerien Productions, call the box office on 021 438 3301 or 021 438 3300 or contact Theatre on the Bay via email for simple and secure savings on months of sensational entertainment today.