Music

Meet the Men who Bring the Magic …

GETTING TO KNOW SOME OF THE CAST OF ROBIN HOOD AND THE BABES IN THE WOOD

Theatre is many things to many people: smoke and mirrors to some, a means of political and social rhetoric or commentary to others. But there’s no doubt that when it comes to Pantomime, it’s pure magic! There can be no doubt as to the intention of pantomime … it’s there to entertain the audience, whether young or old, and it needs to cater to a wide spectrum of fans. This is the 29th time that Janice Honeyman will be doing just that. She’s the unrivalled master at writing scripts that delight all who see her shows, incorporating just the right balance of slightly risqué fun for the adults, and good-natured humour for the kids. Together with Bernard Jay, this team has a sure-fire approach that ticks all the boxes for the ultimate in excellent entertainment.

And part of that approach is ensuring they have the right people for the job! This year’s pantomime is the all-new Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, a mash-up of the old Robin Hood tale (he stole from the rich to give to the poor … I’m sure our brains are all in overdrive as to how this is being applied to current SA news stats!), and the story of Hansel and Gretel coming to visit the evil witch … errrrm, their not-so-nice uncle, the Sheriff of Nottingham. And who better to play the dashing, daring, darling Robin Hood than Izak Davel, currently better known as arrogant Bradley Haines in Isidingo? Every hero needs a sidekick, and in this case there’s a group of merry men led by the jolly Little John – Phumi Mncayi.

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l-r: Phumi, Desmond, Izak

I was interested to get to know the people behind the magic a little better, so I recently met with Izak and Phumi to find out who these guys really are, and what special sparkle they have that makes them perfect for their roles. I got a bit more than I bargained for as some extra laughs were thrown in by Desmond Dube (Friar Tuck), who was keen to join the action. I can honestly say I don’t remember the last time I spent such an enjoyable hour in the company of such down-to-earth authentic guys, who genuinely love what they do!

Izak tells me that he’s “just a laatjie who grew up in a dorpie in the Eastern Cape who just wants to enjoy life.” He’s happiest when he’s spending time with his wife, or walking his dogs. I’m openly incredulous, and beg him to tell me how on earth he landed up in the acting industry! Well, he initially wanted to be a rugby player, but due to damaged knees he took up ballet as a means to strengthen them. Realising his dreams of rugby-playing fame and fortune had been thwarted, he was thinking of becoming a physiotherapist or a biokineticist – you know, down to earth stuff! But he then went on to study musical theatre at TUT, and the universe, as they say, obviously had different plans for him!

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Izak in his Robin Hood regalia! Photo Credit: Mariola Bela

His first theatre role was in 2004, in a Pieter Toerien production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’. He’s already recorded one studio album, and will be back in-studio in January to begin recording his second, signed under SNP (Snyman Musiek Produksies). He strongly believes that in the industry, at this point in time, you most definitely need to be a triple threat (i.e. you need to be able to sing, dance and act – usually all at once!), in addition to having some other sort of business interest on the back-burner to sustain you financially. He’s level-headed and under no illusions of glitz and glamour!

It’s inevitable that we chat about his role in Isidingo, which he hopes to continue into next year, and his participation in one of our local seasons of Celebrity Survivor where he became (in)famous for wearing nothing but a red speedo most of the time! I ask if it was a publicity stunt and he tells me it wasn’t. It all came about purely because he was being the perfect gentleman. Cindy Nel needed a pair of shorts so he gallantly gave her his! He jokes that his mom always taught him to have manners!

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Of course we chat about his participation in ‘Robin Hood’. It’s his first panto role and he’s thoroughly enjoying it, anticipating the interaction that the cast gets from an excited audience, especially the school-kids, many of whom have never seen live theatre before.

Phumi joins us, at which point Desmond chirps loudly from the table next to us that he’s most upset that I’m only chatting with the ‘pretty boys’! I tell him they may be pretty but he’s beautiful! Much laughter ensues before we continue. He’s actually busy with his own separate interview! I promise there’s no favouritism here!

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Yes! Izak is a photo-bomber!! 🙂

Having been part of the cast of Bernard Jay’s recent production of Saturday Night Fever, already having been cast in Jay’s 2017 production of The Color Purple, and having worked with many of the current cast before, Phumi feels very strongly about the loyalty that exists between directors, producers, and their cast members. “The people make the show,” he says. “The synergy between them is what makes it all come together. Without that, there’s nothing.”

Once again, as with Izak, I’m humbled by the complete lack of affectation this man has by the industry he works in. He’s an outgoing, fun family man who proudly tells me that his wife and small son are his prized possessions and motivators, his entire reason and purpose for being. He sums it up by saying “You can lose yourself in the illusion of what you do. People need to ground you.”

For a final laugh, I ask them both which Superhero they’d be, given the chance. Actually I don’t get the chance to ask Izak because he’s guessed the question before I’m even halfway through asking it and immediately assures me that he would be Wolverine! When asked why, he replies, “because he’s tough, funny, strong and he protects.” Clearly 4 traits he associates himself with!

Phumi, on the other hand thinks for a couple of minutes, and then tells me he’d like to be Ant Man!! After I’ve finished falling over myself laughing, I pull myself together enough to reply that I’ve never heard of him. They’re both amazed! (No, really!) Unsurprisingly (I suppose, after that reaction!), I then got an in-depth tutorial on Ant Man: who he is, what he does. Ant Man views the world from the bottom up, and that’s something Phumi would like to do!

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Phumi & Izak

As for what they would consider to be their ‘theme songs’. No surprises when Phumi decides on ‘People who need People’, and Izak takes ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’.

And finally it’s time to send them back to rehearsals, knowing undoubtedly that this year’s pantomime is going to be one whole bundle of fun if they have anything to do with it! And with all that laughter, it’s going to weave that magical spell as it always does, bringing delight and enjoyment to all who see it.

Make sure you’ve got your tickets booked. Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood opens this week at the Joburg Theatre and the fun continues until 30 December. Book through the Theatre at www.joburgtheatre.co.za or 0861 670 670, or you can book at Pick n Pay Stores and WebTickets.

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ROBIN HOOD AND THE BABES IN THE WOOD

robin-hood-1A BRAND NEW PANTOMIME ADVENTURE

FROM JANICE HONEYMAN

 Riding through the royal forest of Sherwood on a glorious May morning, you don’t have a care in the world.  Then you hear a bird call, the faint rustling of trees, and suddenly a man armed with a longbow appears in your path.  He wears a feathered cap, or is that a hood?  You can’t see the man’s face clearly, but you don’t have to.  He is dressed in Lincoln green, the colour of Robin Hood – the most famous English outlaw of all time.

The earliest surviving Robin Hood ballad, Robin Hood and The Monk, dates from the 15th Century.  Subsequently, the legend has become one of the most popular movie and TV stories of all time: from Robin Hood and His Merry Men, a 1908 silent film; to British television’s long-running series The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-59); to 1973’s Walt Disney’s Robin Hood; to Mel Brooks’ hilarious Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993); and to the 2010 movie Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe.

And now comes Janice Honeyman’s brand new pantomime adventure, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, on the stage of The Mandela at Joburg Theatre from November 5th to December 30th 2016.  

The plot combines the babes-lost-in-the-forest story with the Robin Hood legend.  The young children, Hansel and Gretel, come to visit their uncle, the Sheriff of Nottingham, little suspecting that he is plotting their demise.  But never fear, help is at hand – in the shape of Robin and his Merry Men, plus Maid Marian and the Spirit of the Forest!

Playing the role of Robin in his first Joburg Theatre pantomime is Izak Davel, best known to TV viewers as Isidingo’s arrogant Bradley Haines, and whose hit recordings include Verlei MyIs Jy In Of Is Jy Uit and Vreesloos.

Much loved panto star Desmond Dube returns to Joburg Theatre to play the jovial Friar Tuck, Idols finalist Bongi Mthombeni features in his fifth Joburg Theatre pantomime as the dandy Will Scarlet and leading lady of South African musical theatre, Kate Normington, will surely be wildly comic as Silly Sylviana, the Spirit of the Forest!

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Also featured in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood are Graham Hopkins as the villainous Norman the Nasty, Sheriff of Nottingham, L J Urbani as the ever-popular panto Dame Emmarentia Ugly, Phumi Mncayi as chief lieutenant of the Merry Men, Little John, award-winning actress Candida Mosoma as Much the Miller’s Son (written with an inevitable panto twist!), beautiful Carmen Pretorius as Robin’s love interest, Maid Marian, and Jaco Van Rensburg as the wandering minstrel, Alan-a-Dale.

Joining them in the all-South-African cast are, in alphabetical order, TeeKay Baloyi, Darius Engelbrecht, Clive Gilson, Nuritt Graff, Kyra Green, Dirk Joubert, Dolly Louw, Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri, Tsepho Ncokoane, Noni Nkonto, Dale Scheepers, Natasha Van Der Merwe and Maryanne Van Eyssen.

“It’s an exciting year for us when Janice Honeyman writes a brand new pantomime script,” says Bernard Jay, Executive Producer of the panto. “We don’t know exactly what to expect until the last minute, but we do know it will be full of her magical flair for story-telling, spectacular special effects, zany comedy and outrageous double entendres!”

Writer / director Janice Honeyman collaborates with producer Bernard Jay on their sixteenth Joburg Theatre pantomime together.  Rowan Bakker joins the team this year as musical director; Nicol Sheraton returns as choreographer; the eagerly anticipated, over-the-top, fabulous sets and costumes are once again supplied by Qdos in the UK; the lighting design is by Graham McLusky; sound design by Trevor Peters; and Timothy Le Roux is the resident director.  As with many past successful pantomime productions at Joburg Theatre, Claire Pacariz and Simon James serve as associate producers.

Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood has preview performances on The Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre on November 5th and 6th with tickets from R170.  Its official Opening Night is scheduled for Sunday November 6th and the season continues until December 30th, with tickets priced from R220.

Over 30,000 tickets have already been sold for this year’s panto, so best to hurry and get yours now for South Africa’s most popular family entertainment tradition.  Tickets are available by visiting www.joburgtheatre.com or calling 0861 670 670, as well as through Webtickets and at Pick ‘n’ Pay stores. For group bookings of 10 or more, contact the theatre directly on 011 877 6853/6815.

For details of the full schedule and performance times, visit www.joburgtheatre.com

MAKE WAY … THE QUEEN IS COMING!

A journey to the heart of FABULOUS …

PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

The hit musical makes its SA debut with local cast.

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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.”

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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 (AnnieSweeney 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.

For further information visit www.showtime.co.za or www.montecasino.co.za or www.artscape.co.za

Special hospitality packages as well as Show & Stay packages available from Montecasino Hospitality & Corporate Events, (011) 3674250 or montecasino.reservations@tsogosun.com.

Stay current on the latest news through social media on Facebook  Twitter and YouTube  #PriscillaSA

 

A Fever You’ll Want to Catch!

A Review of Saturday Night Fever, currently on stage at the South African State Theatre

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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.

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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:

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Daniel Buys as Tony Manero

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’.

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LJ Neilsen as Annette

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!

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Natasha van der Merwe as Stephanie with Daniel Buys as Tony

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.

 

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Kiruna-Lind Devar as Pauline with Matthew Berry as Bobby

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]

Nataniël’s latest creation, MANNEQUIN, heads to Emperors Palace in August

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I firmly believe that Nataniël is a national treasure who should be nurtured and cherished like the priceless gem that he is!

After admiring him from afar for so long, I finally went to see him onstage in his previous show After Animals, and I was transported to another realm of Nataniël’s own creation. He is a true genius, and I was so thrilled when the show deservedly received numerous Naledi awards earlier this year, including awards for Best Costume Design, Best Score and Best Lighting.

Nataniel 3So I’m pretty elated (actually that’s a bit of an understatement) that his much anticipated new show is opening in Johannesburg in the not too distant future, and that I’m able to bring you all the details right here, after receiving the press release earlier today …

Multitalented stalwart of the South African entertainment industry for over two decades, Nataniël is more than just a producer, director, designer, playwright, public speaker and performer – he is a true icon of stage and screen. Nataniël will return to the Theatre of Marcellus stage at Emperors Palace with a new stage production, MANNEQUIN, from 18 August to 25 September 2016(There will be a week of previews from 18 August, with the show opening officially on 25 August and runs until 25 September 2016.)

The production tells the story of an author who toys with the idea of writing a book about the life of a reclusive tailor. MANNEQUIN is the story told by his tailor. A tale of surprise, fear, cruelty, humour, truth and fantasy. The show will not only feature original music, but also Nataniël’s surprise versions of a few of the world’s best known songs from the late sixties and the eighties.

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Nataniël will share the stage with long-time fellow musicians Charl du Plessis (keyboards), Juan Oosthuizen (guitars), Werner Spies (bass), Hugo Radyn (drums) and favourite singers Nicolaas Swart and Dihan Slabbert. This show, structured around stories told in both English and Afrikaans, is about visual beauty and tailoring, and features an astounding collection of new costumes by the multi award-winning designer, Floris Louw.

MANNEQUINN, set to captivate audiences with its masterful blend of music, storytelling and breathtaking costumes, will be performed from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 20h00, and on Sunday afternoons at 15h00. Tickets start from R160 per person and can be booked through the Emperors Palace Box Office on 011 928 1297/1213, or by visiting www.emperorspalace.com or Computicket. Winners Circle members qualify for discount.

There is an age restriction of No Under 15’s and the show is 90 minutes in duration with no interval.

Emperors Palace is a Peermont resort. Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @emperorspalace.

MZANSI YOUTH CHOIR ANNUAL GALA CONCERT 2016

Look at the awesome talent we have in our beautiful country!Glitter & Toast's photo.

One night only:
Saturday 27 August at 7:30pm
The Mandela Stage @ Joburg Theatre

The Mzansi Youth Choir will be staging a glittering Annual Gala Concert taking place on The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre on Saturday 27 August at 7:30pm for one night only.

The Mzansi Youth Choir Annual Gala Concert 2016 is a FREE CONCERT which promises to be an exciting assortment of local and international music that will incorporate elements of traditional music, pop and jazz as uniquely performed by The Mzansi Youth Choir.

Mzansi’s exquisite youthful sound, sensational choreography, pulsating energy, buoyancy, vibrancy and devotion to South African music is an experience not to be missed.

This 90-minute concert will include all the favourite renditions they are known to perform with such flair including their popular Hugh Masekela Medley, Circle of Life, Homeless, Pata Pata and African Dream. They will also be performing their newly released single Say Africa for the first time.
Say Africa was made famous by Vusi Mahlasela, its positive lyrics inspired by Africa. The Mzansi Youth Choir likes to portray a true yet overwhelmingly positive story about their country and continent in their recordings. The song was recorded in Johannesburg and mixed in San Fransisco by Grammy Award winning acapella producer, Bill Hare. Bill has worked with top international acapella groups such as The Pentatonix and King Singers.

To download “Say Africa”:

https://itunes.apple.com/…/a…/say-africa-single/id1139211823

Enjoy this video for a behind the scenes look at Mzansi Youth Choir:

https://youtu.be/xu-34ryXkb0

Enjoy Mzansi Youth Choir’s hit “Africa Rise” video here (it gave me chills!):

https://www.youtube.com/watch…

The choir was established in July 2003 with the aim of affording talented, underprivileged teenagers and young adults (14-24 years) the opportunity to proficiently perform locally and abroad. The choir consists of 45 choristers from Soweto and other areas in and around Johannesburg. The word Mzansi means south in isiZulu and is also the township slang word for South Africa.

This concert is FREE to the public but advanced booking is essential as space is limited.

As to why the concert is FREE to the general public, Ralf Schmitt, Music Director of Mzansi Youth Choir explains; “The Mzansi Youth Choir would like to thank South Africa and more particularly the people of Johannesburg for their incredible support of the choir and there is no better way to do that than by giving them a FREE concert to enjoy. Over the past 13 years we have been able to provide countless young South Africans the opportunity to showcase and develop their talents on local and international stages. This concert also gives those that haven’t had the opportunity to see the choir perform before, to come along and join us and share in the magic”.

Bookings can be done through www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling the Joburg Theatre Box Office on 0861 670 670 or through Webtickets.

The theatre has a no-under-3-years-of-age policy to ensure the comfort of all patrons. The concert is 90 minutes with no interval.

The Mzansi Youth Choir Annual Gala Concert 2016 has been made possible through the generous support of AVBOB.

 Glitter & Toast's photo.

MARIANTHE PANAS – A MOST MODEST DIVA

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.

Marianthe PanasTeen 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.

Supreme DivasThe 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.”Supreme Divas Poster

Performances for Supreme Divas run from Thursday to Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm on The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre.

Tickets range from R150 to R250. These are available by visiting www.joburgtheatre.com or calling 0861 670 670, as well as through Webtickets.

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.

 

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