SUPREME DIVAS – Celebrating Fabulous Women of Song
Can you believe it’s August already?! Finally, that month where we celebrate strong, dynamic, successful, wonderful women! Well, we really should be honouring them all the time, and we do, but in August we really make a song and dance about it and where better to do that than on The Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre, where they’ll be doing it in spectacular fashion with Supreme Divas.
The show will run from Thursday 11 August to Sunday 14 August for four performances only.
Supreme Divas will delight audiences old and young as they celebrate the powerhouse female singers that have become legends through their music over the past few decades.
Homage is paid to “old school” divas including Etta James, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer and many others while younger audiences will relish the celebration of hits from “new school” divas including Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Adele and others. A fitting tribute will also be made to a few of South Africa’s own divas including Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Miriam Makeba and Claire Johnston.
Taking centre stage will be the insanely talented vocalists Tia Herman, Lelo Ramasimong, Tracey-Lee Oliver and Elizca Coetzer, with Born To Perform teenage sensation Marianthe Panas joining them as she makes her professional theatre debut.
Teen sensation Marianthe Panas has represented KwaZulu Natal in The SA Championships of the Performing Arts (twice), competed in The World Championships of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles and Hollywood, winning numerous awards in both championships – and all before she was her current age of 15.
In her hometown of Durban, she has performed at a number of events including The Durban Theatre Awards, Night of 100 Stars, The Durban Chamber of Commerce Gala Dinner, as well as with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra at The KZN Young Performers 2016 event.
In Johannesburg, she caught everyone’s attention with her showtopping performance in Born To Perform’s Gala Concert in July 2015 and again recently when she was one of the vocalists in the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra’s concert A Night With The Stars.
Supreme Divas marks her professional theatre debut.
I was particularly taken with the notion of a 15-year-old performer taking to the stage with such experienced artistes, and instantly wanted to chat to her, convinced that this absolutely had to be a Diva in the making; would she be over-confident, precocious and petulant? Surely you’d have to be to hold your own, taking to the stage with the combined experience of your fellow performers?
Unfortunately, due to time and distance constraints, we haven’t yet been able to meet, and had to manage with an email interview. I was immediately completely charmed by Marianthe’s evident maturity and level-headedness, 2 things that will most definitely stand her in good stead for the career that she clearly wishes to pursue.
Here’s my Q & A with Marianthe, and you’ll see what I mean (I’m the ‘J’, she’s the ‘M’ and some of my comments are added in her answers in brackets):
I’m really looking forward to meeting you, and to seeing the show, but in the meantime … a few questions (and no pressure J).
J: Take me through what would be a ‘normal’ day for you, when you’re not rehearsing for a show or a competition.
M: Well, I would be at school until 14h30. After that, I would either be attending hockey practice, dance, acting or singing classes. I’m part of the KZN Youth Choir & rehearsals are from 5 to 9pm every Friday.
J: So you’d already won numerous awards and performed and participated in competitions overseas before you were 15; do you feel like you’ve had to grow up a lot quicker than others who are the same age as you?
M: I haven’t actually thought about that. Well, I haven’t felt like that before. I’ve been singing from a very young age so I’ve grown up performing. I do feel as though I’ve matured faster than some girls in my grade, but I love doing what I do so there isn’t a case of feeling as though I need to grow up a lot quicker. I turned 15 in May & trust me… I act itJ
J: Who’s your biggest Diva inspiration and why?
M: Idina Menzel. She was the lead in the original cast of many musicals I grew up watching. She performs with so much passion & has an amazing vocal range. She has also stayed so humble. [In case you don’t know, Idina Menzel is the voice behind Frozen’s Queen Elsa. That’s right … Let It Go! And she’s just been cast as Bette Midler’s character CC Bloom in the TV remake of Beaches.]
J: And who inspires you most in the non-performing world?
M: My twin brother. He got a virus in his spine, which paralysed him from his waist down for about 3 months when we were 12 years old. Although, he can now walk – he is not 100% recovered. He has a dropped foot & needs to wear a brace on both feet. To this day, he has never complained or given up. That takes a lot of guts to do so I always look up to him for inspiration.
J: Give us a playlist of your all-time favourite top 5 songs/pieces of music – any and all genres?
M: Don’t Rain on my Parade – Barbara Streisand [One of my all-time favourites too!]
I knew you were trouble – Taylor Swift
Stone Cold – Demi Lavato
Bound to You – Christina Agulera
The Story of Us – Taylor Swift
J: Do you read? If so, what do you read?
M: I love reading mystery & fantasy. My all time favourite book series is Pretty Little Liars & the Mortal Intruments. (I’m kind of obsessed)
J: You’ve been given the opportunity to play the leading role in the movie of your choice … which movie do you choose, and which role? And (most important) who do you choose as your leading man and why?
M: I would pick The 5th Wave. I would play the role Cassie as she tries to find her missing brother in an alien apocalypse. [Yes, it’s Sci-Fi!] She is as a strong willpower and the love she has for her brother is never-ending. I would choose Chris Hemsworth – duh! [Like she said … a typical 15 year old!]
J: What do you have to say to our world leaders right now? (Don’t be shy!)
M: I’m not so clued up in politics, but I would say all leaders seem to think of themselves instead of their people. They get richer and the poor get poorer. [Darling, you think you’re not so clued up in politics, but you seem to have summed it all up in a nutshell right there … spot on!]
J: What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far from fellow performers?
M: STAY HUMBLE! Don’t act like a Diva or a know all. There’s always something to learn from someone else more experienced than you.
J: And finally … where would you like to be in 5 years’ time? (Sorry, I know it’s a really boring, clichéd question, but it has to be asked – there’s such a vast ocean of difference between 15 and 20!)
M: Hopefully studying Musical Theatre. My biggest dream in life is to perform on Broadway.
Isn’t she just so lovely and grounded? I can’t wait to meet Marianthe in person, and I really appreciate her taking some time out to answer my questions.
The Supreme Divas will be onstage along with a dynamic 9-piece band led by Music Director Llewellyn George. Audiences will thrill to instantly recognisable hits including R.E.S.P.E.C.T., Somewhere, If I could turn back time, I’m every woman, Hot Stuff, Stop in the Name of Love, Vulindlela, Valerie, Unqombothi, Do You Know where you’re going to, If I were a boy and many more.
This is the ultimate concert experience, honouring a selection of the many women who’ve made an indelible mark on the local and international music industry.
Joburg City Theatres will be producing the show. “We want to portray South African talent at its best,” says Claire Pacariz, Executive Producer for Joburg City Theatres. “And with Women’s Day on August 9th, we thought it would be an ideal time to honour legendary women in song.”
Performances for Supreme Divas run from Thursday to Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm on The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre.
For group bookings of 10 or more, please contact the theatre directly on (011) 877 6853/6815.
Supreme Divas is proudly brought to you by Joburg City Theatres in association with The CoLab Network and directed by Timothy Le Roux. Vocalists will be dressed by Hollywood Costumes.