DIRECT FROM NEW YORK AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SOUTH AFRICA!
An all-male comedy ballet danced by 16 prima dancers from 7 countries around the world.
We’re just 10 days away from the arrival of Les Ballet Eloelle’s MEN IN TUTUS – on stage at The Teatro at Montecasino for 4 shows only from Friday 12th – Sunday 14th April!
Humour in classical ballet is hard to find, and this is one reason for the enduring popularity of this fabulous troupe of male ballerinas. Direct from New York, Les Ballets Eloelle’s latest international production Men In Tutus is the most spectacular, talented and hilarious all-male comedy ballet ever!
The internationaly company has dancers from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, Japan and The Philippines for this tour.
Men In Tutus will open at the Teatro, Montecasino, on Friday 12 April and will run for four performances only, until it moves to Cape Town, the Artscape Opera House from 18 to 21 April 2019.
Enjoy a taste of what to expect by watching this video advert: https://youtu.be/Y0NK_t3hFcE
Classical ballet likes to take itself seriously, which may explain why you don’t get many comedies on the ballet stage. Yet those of us who love tutus and tiaras also like nothing better than to laugh with the hairy man-ballerinas!
Artistic Director (and also a principal dancer in the show), Victor Trevino states;
“Our mission is to help bring new audiences to dance through comedy. We are essentially sharing the love of an artform with as broad of an audience as possible. Our hope is that audiences that come to our show who have never been to a ballet will consider seeing traditional (serious) dance. There is this mystique that dance is too difficult to understand and is only for audiences who have a deep knowledge of culture and art. We hope to change that misconception using comedy as a means to expose audiences to the magic of dance.
Those who love ballet will certainly see the choreography and skill of the dancers that’s expected in a traditional ballet.”
Trevino continues; This is a family friendly show. If you have never been to the ballet come out and join us, you will have a great time. If you have seen ballet, don’t miss this! You will have a deep appreciation for what you see and will have a great laugh at the same time. Also, we will be doing selfies after the show! We want to meet our audiences.”
Men In Tutus will feature the following:
Pas de Quatre
Pas de Deux, Le Corsaire
A parody of George Balanchine’s choreography, Go for Barocco
From the thrilling pirouettes of the male dancers (in male and female costumes) with brilliant choreography to the side-splitting humour, all presented in specifically-designed lavish costumes, Victor Trevino’s Men In Tutus is a show designed for the whole family!
Tickets for the Johannesburg season range from R200 – R400 and Bookings are through Computicket.
Men In Tutu Performances: at The Teatro, Montecasino
Friday 12 April at 20h00
Saturday 13 April at 15h00 and 20h00
Sunday 14 April at 15h00
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You don’t simply ‘watch’ The Color Purple, you experience it … it’s akin to a religious experience where you immerse yourself in it, and then you emerge afterwards feeling that any piece of theatre hereon after is always going to be compared to this and will be left wanting.
As I drifted out of the auditorium, I caught these snippets from fellow theatre-goers: ‘Extraordinary’! ‘Marvelous’! ‘Simply superb’! Yes, they all spoke using hyperbole because that’s just about all that can be said for this production – if one is not rendered speechless by its sheer excellence.
I’m sure I’m in the vast minority of those who had not previously read the book (written by Alice Walker in 1982) or even seen the film of the same name. So I had only a vague notion of the background and storyline before going to see the show. I’m not sure this makes a difference. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
Within seconds of opening the audience is swept away by the innocent exuberance of Celie (Didintle Khunou) and her sister Nettie (Sebe Leotlela) bursting onto the stage, singing as only children without a care can. But within just short moments we realise this isn’t the case. Time moves swiftly onstage and we see that this simplicity is just a front for the harsh life that the sisters experience. It’s the early 1900’s in the American South: times are tough for young African-American women.
In these times troubles are borne with proud humility. Life dishes out harsh blows, as do the men from whom there seems no escape. However Celie finds shelter from the storm in the unlikely form of Shug Avery, the woman her own husband pines for. Sophisticated, stylish, and with a mind of her own, Shug is the first person to show Celie how to nurture her own individuality. For the first time Celie begins to understand that it might be possible that she’s her own person, and that she might have a chance at having a life of her own, away from the cruelty and appalling conditions inflicted upon her by the loathsome Mister. Khunou plays Celie with dignity, charm and strength and a voice that will capture your heart.
Lerato Mvelase makes an enchanting Shug. She holds everyone in the palm of one hand, while wanting to grab all that life has to offer her with the other. It’s a riveting performance. And in the very eye of the Shug storm is Mister, played with such discerning insight by Aubrey Poo that the audience can’t help but be captivated, first despising him, eventually sympathising with him and by the very end of the show feeling quite fond of him.
Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri as Mister’s son is delightfully endearing, with a voice that proves he’s to be taken a lot more seriously than his character might suggest. But it is Neo Motaung who surprises in her role as Sofia, Harpo’s strong-minded wife. Wow! This is a powerhouse of talent to look out for in future. With a voice that pulsates and resonates into your very core, not to mention a laugh that begs to let you in on the private joke! Motaung is an astonishing treasure that has been unearthed!
The entire cast creates a striking ensemble that moves effortlessly to the choreography of Oscar Buthelezi, and under the baton of Musical Director Rowan Bakker, together with the 8-piece orchestra, they generate a joyful noise that will undoubtedly bring audiences to their feet time and time again in thunderous applause, not only at the conclusion of each performance, but at other moving moments throughout it too.
Director Janice Honeyman has proven time and again that she is the Queen of all she surveys in her field but this time she’s outdone herself, and together with Executive Producer Bernard Jay has crafted a genuine masterpiece! This is an authentic gem of a production, the likes of which one rarely gets the privilege to see. Grab the opportunity while you have the chance! You’ll be so glad you did!
The Colour Purple is on The Mandela Stage at The Joburg Theatre until Sunday March 4th, 2018. Tickets are priced from R240: Telephone 0861 670 670, go online at www.joburgtheatre.com or book in person at the Joburg Theatre box office. Theatre patrons can also book online and pay at selected Pick N Pay stores.
[All photo credits: @enroCpics]
HOP ON THE BUS TO FABULOUS!
From the minute the curtain goes up and the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert launches into their enthusiastic, energetic opening number: It’s Raining Men – complete with 3 sparkly, shimmering Diva’s suspended above their heads – you know you’re in for a helluva ride! And that’s exactly what you get when you take your seat for this proudly South African production that takes you on the journey of a lifetime across the Australian outback.
In case you don’t know, this is the touching story of three drag queens who travel across Australia on a rather decrepit bus, which they fondly name Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. On their journey they discover the true meaning of friendship, love and unfortunately also meet up with the animosity that accompanies those who have no understanding of anyone or anything ‘different’. It’s a timeless tale of how strong bonds are formed, how hatred and derision continue to exist despite the advances that we think are being made, and how ultimately we all have the need to be accepted for who we are, regardless of our differences.
Daniel Buys is perfect in the role of Tick (Mitzi); delightfully up-beat, while seamlessly able to shift into a more restrained, reflective mood when his role requires it. And it’s certainly needed as he secretly has more than one reason to be schlepping around the
outback in a broken-down bus! He ropes in flighty Adam (Felicia) to join him on his mission, and Felicia has a goal of her very own. Apart from just wanting to have a good time, she’s always wanted to belt out a Kylie number on top of Ayers rock, because who doesn’t love the thought of ‘a cock in a frock on a rock’! Phillip Schnetler camps up the role with spot-on, screaming hilarity (and a touch of Jack from Will & Grace)! The trio is complete with dignified, slightly aging transsexual Bernadette who feels she’s possibly past her prime, but willing to go out with a bang (so to speak!). David Dennis plays the role with gracious grandeur, back-biting as wickedly as any self-respecting old queen would! And I just have to add here, out of these three, I just can’t decide who has the best pair of legs … they’re all to die for!!
Mentions must go to the all too fabulous, stupendously over-the-top Miss-Understanding, Tshepo Ncokoane; Candice van Litsenborgh who hams it up as the most hilarious mullet ever, complete with humungous boobs bouncing all over the stage (almost); Chantal Herman as a cheeky mail-order bride who’s sick and tired of being overlooked; and last but most definitely not least, veteran actor, James Borthwick who plays the simple, but simply adorable, big-hearted mechanic, who might just have more to him than meets the eye.
Ultimately though, producers Hazel Feldman and Tony Feldman of Showtime Management have put together a cracker of a team who have have masterfully overseen all the minutiae of this show, ensuring that they collaborate perfectly to make it the glitter and glitz extravaganza that it is. Director Anton Luitingh keeps things crisp, smart and snappy and technical director Alistair Kilbee oversees the constant ebb and flow of the pizazz that abounds throughout. Resident choreographer, Duane Alexander ensures (I have no clue how) that the 28-strong cast gets every step in synch, in heels nogal! Brian Schimmel, one of SA’s top music directors leads the 9-piece orchestra through numerous well-loved numbers (I Say a Little Prayer, Don’t Leave Me This Way, True Colours, I Will Survive … and many more) that will have audiences singing at the top of their lungs, not only during the show, but when they leave too!
And as for the costumes … the headdresses, the shoes … they’ll simply take your breath away! There’s so much colour, so much to look at … it’s a feast for the eyes and an extreme celebration of the imagination!
Best of all though is the utter enjoyment that shines from the face of each and every cast member. This is a show that begs for an audience, and has audiences begging for more
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a must-see. It’s fabulous fun, thoroughly entertaining, and if you don’t walk out of that theatre with a huge smile on your face, then you lied and didn’t actually see the show!
It’s on at the Teatro, Montecasino until 18 June, 2017.
BOOKINGS: Computicket by calling 0861 915 8000, or visit www.computicket.com
This musical contains some strong language and adult themes, therefore parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12
Dance Umbrella 2017, a celebration of 29 years of South African contemporary Dance, proudly presented by Dance Forum, is funded by the Department of Arts and Culture and the Gauteng Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, in partnership with the National Arts Council of South Africa, Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud (IFAS), the Goethe Institut and Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council.
The focus of the 2017 Dance Umbrella is ‘young’ featuring mostly up and coming choreographers who have been challenging the mainstream and are generating interest on all levels.
The Festival had its beginnings when two journalists, Marilyn Jenkins and Adrienne Sichel, both with a passionate interest in contemporary choreography and dance, approached the Vita Awards, requesting that they initiate a contemporary dance festival in South Africa; and the Vita Dance Umbrella, under the aegis of AA Life and Vita Promotions (under the directorship of Philip Stein) was launched in Johannesburg in 1989. Dance Umbrella, an annual festival, has become the platform for new South African work – and is considered to be the place to show and see work by both artists and
international programmers. It includes new commissioned work by South African companies/choreographers; invited international companies; young artists; a series of workshops and/or master classes and discussions and debates regarding the dance industry. Today the Festival, under the artistic directorship of Georgina Thomson, is widely acknowledged as the premier contemporary dance festival in Africa.
Announcing the 29th year of the Festival, Thomson said: “At the first Dance Umbrella only 16 choreographers presented works; at this year’s festival more than 50 new works will be presented and with our focus on predominantly young artists, Dance Umbrella 2017 is proud to present the rich, home-grown talents of these young choreographers.”
The full programme, with 13 commissioned works, 13 new works and six Johannesburg premieres, includes: Nhlanhla Mahlangu’s The Workers CHANT at the Workers Museum, Newtown Johannesburg on February 23 and 24 at 19:00 – the Workers CHANT celebrates those unsung heroes who built the city of Johannesburg with their bare hands; the black migrant workers who lived in compounds – the Workers’ Museum was a compound – and also the atrocities experienced by men, women and children during those times.
Moeketsi Koena and Gaby Saranouffi’s Corps at the Wits Downstairs Theatre on February 24
and 25 at 19:00 – Corps explores the transporting links that connect the real and the unreal through photography and dance and it creates a link between today’s world and the past through the ancestral history of South Africa, Madagascar and France. Production: Inzalo Dance and Theatre Company (South Africa), Vahinala Dance (Madagascar). Co-Production: Centre Chorégraphique National de Nantes (France), I’TRÔTRA International Dance Festival (Madagascar) Support and Partnerships: Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud (IFAS).
Jazzart Dance Theatre’s new work Space by the artistic director Sifiso Kweyama, at The Wits Theatre on February 24 and 25 at 20:00. This work highlights the choreographer’s connection to a space he once occupied. He longs for this unrestricted space…which allowed him to be free… to be himself.
Mamela Nyamza’s De-Apart-Hate – a potent weapon to make the oppressor understand that he/she is human and not superior over other human beings; the work is a discourse that starts with the struggles of South Africa as a nation without dwelling on race and ideology, at the Wits Amphitheatre on February 24 and 25 at 21:00. De-Apart-Hate was created in residency at the University of Maryland at The Clarice Performing Arts Centre, Washington USA.
The Fringe Programme on Sunday February 26 at 10:00 at the Wits Theatre will feature nearly 30 new works from young choreographers. The programme includes Julia Burnham (Vuyani Dance Company), Thembinkosi Puwane (Eastern Cape), Qiniso Zungu and Teresa Mojela and promises to be a discovery of new and exciting contemporary dance and performance.
The South African born choreographer Rudi van der Merwe’s installation work Trophée, on February 25 and 26 at 15:00 in a park in Johannesburg is an outdoor performance with a strong affinity to visual and land art and with a reference to the submission of women (trophy wife), of nature (hunting trophy) and the other by means of war throughout history. Produced by Skree Wolf; Co-Production: Festival Antigel (Geneva); Support: Republic and State of Geneva; Touring support: Pro Helvetia Johannesburg.
On Tuesday, February 28 and Wednesday, March 1 at the Wits Theatre at 19:00, a Triple bill, will feature Moving into Dance Mophatong’s Oscar Buthelezi and Sonny Boy Motau’s new works: Stuck Souls (Buthelezi) reflects on the world today as it becomes lost in waste and asks “How do we stop this?” and I am NoT… (Motau) speaks to self-discovery and venturing into new and unknown spaces within ourselves: both body and mind, and Vuyani Dance Theatre’s Lulu Mlangeni with the solo.
Also on February 28 and March 1, at the Wits Downstairs Theatre at 20:00, Songezo Mcilizeli will premiere Perspective. Perspective generates imagery framed within socio-political themes; it commits to exploring diverse culture and evolution and it investigates everyday life scenarios, constantly re-creating the imagery via the body; and at the Wits Amphitheatre at 21:00, Dawn by the Katlehong-based choreographer Lucky Kele, explores the relationship between cultures and how we observe the traditional practices in moving time and space. It was originally created at a cultural exchange in Abidjan, Ivory Coast where cultural conversation between Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and South Africa took place.
Fana Tshabalala collaborates with Constanza Macras/Dorky Park from Berlin, Germany with In The Heart of the Country at the Wits Amphitheatre on Thursday and Friday, March 2 and 3 at 19:00. A physical exploration inspired by the “impossible dialogue” between blacks and whites, in JM Coetzee’s literature and Njabulo Ndebele’s book, Rediscovery of the Ordinary. This work, created in residency in Germany and South Africa, is a co-production between Constanza Macras/Dorky Park and Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative at Ebhudwleni Arts Centre, Mpumalanga, with funding by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Goethe Institut South Africa and Dance Umbrella.
LADY, LADY by Gaby Saranouffi, Desiré Davids and Edna Jaime at the Wits Theatre, Thursday March 2 and Friday March 3 at 20:00, presents an experience into a female universe, built up by the personal journeys of three female artists from different countries within the Southern Africa region (South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar). They share, search, explore and exchange their realities in order to give voice to various commonalities, challenges and images. Production by Centre Cultural Franco- Mozambican – CCFM (Maputo); VAHINALA Dance Company (Madagascar); Co- production: I’TRÔTRA International Dance Festival (Madagascar); The Floating Outfit Project South Africa – supported by the National Arts Council; Support and partnerships: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia; Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, Institut Francais and Institute Francis Afrique du Sud.
Also on March 2 and 3, at The Nunnery at 21:00 is Down to Earth by Kieron Jina and Marc Philipp Gabriel – this dance duet deals with constructed identities that are shaped by more and more complex constellations, than by merely geographical origins and social upbringing. Down to Earth is a co-production with Tanzfabrik Berlin (Germany) and University of Johannesburg Arts and Culture (Johannesburg), supported by the International Co-Production Fund of Goethe Institute (Germany) and Dance Umbrella Festival (Johannesburg).
Detritus for One by Alan Parker, a physical theatre solo work with design by Gavin Krastin, is at the Wits Downstairs Theatre on Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4 at 18:00. The work explores the notion of “performing the archive” and the potential ways in which performance can be used to archive past dance works for an audience in the present. Detritus for One draws together dance, spoken word, puppetry and visual image. It is funded by the National Arts Council and Dance Umbrella 2017.
Cape Town choreographer Kirvan Fortuin, who has also worked in the Netherlands, will present When they Leave, a triple bill of works at The Wits Theatre on Saturday, March 4 at 19:00 and Sunday, March 5 at 14:30. When they Leave which is technical, high-pitched and creative in unusual ways, will take the audience on an entertaining and interactive journey through the world of the performers.
Tutu by Tamara Osso at The Nunnery on Saturday, March 4 at 21:00 and Sunday March 5 at 15:30 explores the choreographer’s white identity in relation to other identities or constructs (be they apparent or ephemeral). Starting as a ballet dancer, the artist learnt that within structure there is freedom. Collaborators: Osso, Laura Cameron, Counterspace, Rabbit Productions and Visual Frontier. Both performances are Sold Out.
Closing the festival on Sunday, March 5 is the Young Artists Programme where six young choreographers will present new works: Thami Tshabalala (K-Mad Dance Company); Douglas Sekete (Koketso Dance Project) and Khaya Ndlovu from 10:00 at the Wits Downstairs Theatre and Phumlani Nyanga (Vuyani Dance Theatre); Seodigeng Keaoleboga; Ashleigh Joubert, Bonwa Mbontsi and Tegan Peacock (ReRouted Dance Theatre) from 11.15 at the Wits Amphitheatre.
“In addition to the jam-packed programme the festival will also host, between February 27 and March 4, a series of Master Classes at the Hillbrow Theatre Dance Studio which will be facilitated by selected choreographers and there’ll also be the popular Face to Face conversations with choreographers”, says Thomson.
Dance Umbrella 2017 is funded by the Mzansi Golden Economy Fund, Department of Arts and Culture; the Gauteng Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture and the National Arts Council.
Tickets from R20.00 to R120.00 are available from Computicket 083 915 8000 or www.computicket.com or call 011 492 2033 to reserve tickets.
For block booking discounts and programme updates, please call 011 492 2033 or email email@example.com
To book a place for the Master Classes please call Lethabo at 011 492 2033.
For the Dance Umbrella 2017 programme, updates on the Master Classes and Face to Face interviews please visit www.danceforumsouthafrica.co.za
A journey to the heart of FABULOUS …
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT
The hit musical makes its SA debut with local cast.
Get ready for the musical journey of your life! The critically-acclaimed hit musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert based on the Oscar-winning hit film makes its South African premiere at Artscape, Cape Town on Tuesday, 28 March 2017. Presented by Showtime Management in association with Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Nullarbor Productions, and featuring an all South African cast, Priscilla will be on stage at Artscape until Sunday, 23 April, thereafter moving to Montecasino’s Teatro from Friday, 28 April to 18 June 2017. Tickets are now on sale at Computicket. Hashtag: #PriscillaSA. Brought to South Africa in association with BBC First.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical originally opened in Australia in 2006 and after a sell-out two year run, opened on London’s West End followed by Broadway in New York. The show continues to wow audiences across the globe with recent return tours to the UK, Australia and New Zealand. It has won awards all over the world, including prestigious Olivier and Tony awards.
Critics the world over rave! The Herald Sun (Australia) claims the show is “Vivid, daring and over-the-top” while The Daily Telegraph (UK) sums up the show as being “hugely entertaining … insanely glitzy”.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a heart-warming and uplifting tale of three drag artist friends who hop aboard a battered old bus aka “Priscilla” and go off on the adventure of a life-time through the Australian Outback, to perform in Alice Springs. On the way they find friendship, love and far more than they ever dreamed of.
With a dazzling array of over 500 award-winning costumes, 200 extraordinary head-dresses and a hit parade of dancefloor favourites including I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Finally, Boogie Wonderland, Go West, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and I Love The Nightlife, this wildly fresh and funny musical is a journey to the heart of FABULOUS!
Showtime Management’s Hazel Feldman says: “Priscilla is the ultimate ‘feel-good’ show. This dazzling musical has all the ingredients for a superb night out: the most wonderful costumes, outrageous glamour, music that will have you dancing in your seat and a funny yet touching storyline. No wonder this show has been such a massive hit from the West End to Broadway and beyond.”
The proudly South African, exceptionally talented 28-member cast, live band, crew and creative team will give audiences a night of unforgettable performances, nostalgic music and an entertainment experience with all the sparkle to share in Priscilla’s “fabulousness”.
The principal roles will be played by stellar stage, screen and television performers including David Dennis who has achieved prominence in leading roles from classical to contemporary and musical theatre to film and television over the past three decades (Pirates of Penzance, Starlight Classics and movies 10000BC, Winnie and Zambezia); Daniel Buys (Jersey Boys, West Side Story, Saturday Night Fever); Phillip Schnetler (Saturday Night Fever, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) and veteran actor, James Borthwick (Sunset Boulevard, Evita and over 200 other productions).
Additional roles are played by Taryn-Lee Hudson (Singin’ in the Rain, Jersey Boys), Chantal Herman (Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Noah of Cape Town) and Candice van Litsenborgh (Annie, Sweeney Todd, Sunset Boulevard) with Candida Mosoma (Lion King, Sister Act, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), The Voice of SA finalist, Thembeka Mnguni (High School Musical, Grease) and Durban born Londiwe Dhlomo (Cabaret, Little Shop of Horrors, Puss in Boots) as the three dazzling Diva’s.
The ensemble features a host of multi-talented local performers including Tshepo Ncokoane (Shrek, Janice Honeyman’s Pantomime Sleeping Beauty); Zane Gillion (Sister Act, Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Dancing); Michael Fullard (Hot Mikado, Sleeping Beauty, Sneeuwitjie); Michael Wallace (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Cabaret, West Side Story); Craig Hawks (Black Sails television series, My Fair Lady); Ryan Flynn (Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Sound of Music, Jersey Boys), Samuel Hyde (Singin’ in the Rain SA, Asia and Australia/New Zealand Tour); Henk Opperman (Private Presley, Dirty Dancing the Musical SA and Asia). Fresh new talent includes Dirk Joubert, Jonathan Raath, Nadine Grobbelaar, Donae Brazer, Lourens Obermeyer and Darius Engelbrecht.
Original Priscilla international Director, Simon Phillips together with Choreographer, Andrew Hallsworth will be coming to South Africa to mount the show together with Resident Director, Anton Luitingh; Musical Director, Bryan Schimmel and Resident Choreographer, Duane Alexander.
Board the bus! Bring your “fabulousness” on this highly entertaining journey. Book now at Computicket by calling 0861 915 8000, visit www.computicket.com or your nearest Computicket service centre.
NB: This musical contains some strong language and adult themes, therefore parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12.
Special hospitality packages as well as Show & Stay packages available from Montecasino Hospitality & Corporate Events, (011) 3674250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay current on the latest news through social media on Facebook Twitter and YouTube #PriscillaSA
A Review of Saturday Night Fever, currently on stage at the South African State Theatre
I’ll start off with a confession – I’ve never seen the film version of Saturday Night Fever!! Shock, horror, yes … you can all pick up your jaws and close your mouths now! I didn’t see John Travolta do the whole strut thing in the iconic 3-piece white suit, I only saw the stills; I didn’t hear the Bee Gees’ soundtrack played in its original backdrop format. Hence, when I heard the adapted radio versions, I had no clue of their actual depth or meaning. But that’s all ancient history, relegated to what had become that somewhat lacklustre Disco file of the late 70’s, when I was %$# years old!
Roll on to September 2016 and Bernard Jay’s production of Saturday Night Fever hits the Opera Theatre of The South African State Theatre … I’m now $%*@ years old, and I’m damn excited about it all! Disco’s back! It’s fun, fab, retro and groovy (ok, I know, nobody uses that word)! Glitter balls, go-go boots, big hair and colour, lots and lots of colour!
The storyline goes roughly something like this (just in case you’re part of the uninformed minority):
It’s June 1977, the hottest summer on record and New York is sizzling. Down in the boroughs racial tension is brewing, jobs are scarce and people are angry. Money’s tight, hope seems like a foolish luxury and the only light on the horizon is the glittering disco ball above the dance floor in the club where Tony Manero and his crew, The Faces, hang out on a Saturday night. Tony is ‘da man’. He struts, he moves, he grooves, and everyone else is in awe, especially Annette. Unfortunately, he would prefer the aloof Stephanie Mangano to be as awestruck, but that’s going to take a bit of work on his part. Throw in a side-plot or two, some angst, some religious guilt and there you have it! Oh, and don’t forget all that unforgettable Bee Gees music – Staying Alive, Night Fever, More Than A Woman, Disco Inferno, What Kind of Fool … and of course, many more.
And it’s all here, everything that can be crammed into a nutshell stage show, and Jay has pulled no punches with putting together a theatrical dream team for this creation. Sarah Roberts’ costumes are spot-on, instantly transporting you to that era of (slightly embarrassing) flares, high waists and wide lapels. Award-winning director Greg Homann proves that he’s clearly able to cast his net a lot wider than solely serious theatre. In this, his musical directing debut, he’s done a sterling job. Musical maestro Rowan Bakker, assisted by Drew Bakker directs his 8-piece band with pacey, up-beat panache through, what for many, is a trip down a music memory lane (by the way … just a quick shout out to Trombone player Dan Selsick … you know, trombone players never get mentioned, so … hi). The energetic, vibrant cast are put through their paces by choreographer Weslee Lauder, who ensures that every step, lift, spin and turn is executed with slick precision.
But oh my word … that set!! Denis Hutchinson has created a living, breathing entity that surges around the stage as if it is its own entirely separate, individual character! It opens, shuts, slides, rises, sinks, splits – I almost wanted to ask it to make me a cup of coffee! It is an innovation of design genius, enhanced by ingenious, strategic lighting.
And to populate this epic masterpiece, one needs a bunch of gorgeous looking talent, which we have in shovel-loads. The cast is a cohesive and comfortable ensemble, ably navigating the ups and downs that their characters endure, as the audience is quickly swept up and into their lives, their struggles and their triumphs. Accolades must go to:
Daniel Buys, playing an understated Tony. There’s every opportunity for him to overplay the role, but he reigns it in, allowing his talent and charm to shine through whether he’s taking to the floor at the 2001 Odyssey nightclub, or singing his poignant solo rendition of ‘Tragedy’.
LJ Nielsen, for her touching portrayal of the sweet but vacuous Annette, who has yet to discover who she really is. Nielsen’s beautiful, rich voice certainly can’t fail to catch the audience’s attention, even though Annette failed to catch Tony’s. And I have to say, I particularly loved her facial expressions. They just added an extra nuance to her entire performance!
Natasha van der Merwe for her perfect depiction of the ‘on the surface’ cool and collected Stephanie Mangano, while below that tough exterior she’s paddling for all she’s worth! Stephanie epitomises every ‘Tony’ trying to improve his life, determined not to be dragged back to where they started from, but struggling between a new life and acknowledgement of their roots. Van der Merwe gets it right on all levels, striking a balance between tentative and determined and finishing strong.
Kiruna-Lind Devar, the sweet-faced and even sweeter voiced Pauline who only wants to do the right thing. Watch this space people; this is a young performer going places. Big places!
Sebe Leotlela as nightclub singer Candy is incredible and deserves more prominence, as does Bongi Mthombeni as Monty, who could also be put to much better use here.
Take the show for what it is. It’s an enjoyable musical; a bit of a serious theme here and there, but lightened up with many well-known sing-a-long tunes, well-executed dance numbers, a bunch of great looking people in colourful clothes, on a drop-dead incredible moving set! It’s not rocket science, don’t try and read too much into it. Just go and have fun … we all need to have a lot more fun and we’re damn lucky that we have a bunch of people out there who are working their butts off to give it to us!
Saturday Night Fever is on at the Opera Theatre at the South African State Theatre in Pretoria until October 9.
If you haven’t already booked at Computicket, go and do that right now! Why are you still reading this? Go … book … NOW!!!
[PHOTO CREDITS: SANMARI MARAIS]
COLLABORATION … COHESION … CELEBRATION … and a COMPETITION!!!
Education Africa and Sydenham Shul are thrilled to present ‘Sounds of Celebration III’. This unique event features musical performances by over 150 children and a guest appearance by Jewish singing sensation Choni G. The concert is a joyous and uplifting tribute to social cohesion, performed by talented young artists and representing a wide spectrum of cultures across our beautiful rainbow nation. The goal is to foster unity and positive interactions among young learners by facilitating cross cultural exchanges through music and in the process benefiting disadvantaged learners and communities.
The concert concludes the third year of the ‘Sounds of Celebration’ project in which NGO Education Africa has collaborated with Sydenham Shul to uplift disadvantaged communities around Johannesburg. Education Africa currently runs 9 projects that address various educational needs in South Africa. Their most recent grassroots endeavour has developed an ongoing scheme aimed at bringing musical training, through the establishment of marimba hubs, to a wide number of communities. This exciting project has already established marimba hubs at the Ithute Primary School in Alexandra and the Daveyton Zama Montessori School where over 250 children attend marimba lessons on a weekly basis, and an additional set of marimbas was donated to Stoneridge Primary School in appreciation for the outstanding marimba work being done at that school. With this year’s proceeds a new marimba hub will be established in the Boys and Girls Club in Protea Glen, Soweto.
This year’s exceptional event coordinated by Education Africa’s musical director Joan Lithgow, is themed ‘We are the world. We are the children’, and will include musical pieces on mbira, kora, djembe drums, marimbas, pipe bands, penny whistles, bouzoukis, violin, jazz band, and will also feature choirs, acrobats and dancers.
The organisers are presenting two matinees which are free concerts for 2000 disadvantaged youth in the Gauteng area. These young learners will have the opportunity to hear talented peers perform in a world-class venue. An educational booklet, allied to the CAPS curriculum, has also been prepared and will be supplied to each child. The final performance, formally presented by David Bloch, takes place on Tuesday 15 March at 20:00 and is open to the public. All performances take place at Emperors Palace, Theatre of Marcellus. Tickets are reasonably priced between R60 and R120. Bookings can be made through Ticketpro For more information about the project and the concerts contact Education Africa 011 685 7300 or Sydenham Shul 011 640 5021.
Participants include: Pops Mohamed, Yeshiva College, , Jack Lerole Penny Whistle Ensemble, Jeppe Boys High School, King David Linksfield Primary School, Saheti School, St Benedict’s College, St Dominic’s Boksburg, Zama Montessori School, Pendo Masote on violin, Vuyani Dance Studio & Jewish singing sensation: Choni G