Move over Harry Potter! There’s a new wizard in town … a Guitar Wizard!
When Marcin Patrzalek was 10 years old, his father decided he needed to take up some sort of extra-curricular activity. He hadn’t shown much proficiency for sport up to that point, so when his dad bumped into an old friend one day in a tennis store, who just happened to be a guitar teacher, inspiration struck! Marcin could learn to play the guitar! Only one problem: this friend of his dad’s really didn’t like kids and refused to teach him! However, he did refer him to a fellow teacher, and the rest (as they say) is history.
Marcin tells me that he has always loved ‘sound’ – not actual music, but sounds themselves. When he was a child, he used to play with toys, as any child does, but he remained completely silent while doing so, all the time imagining in his head the sounds they were making. Apparently, adults found this somewhat disturbing!
So he initially took up classical guitar lessons, just for a starter course of 10 days. His teacher immediately recognised that here was someone, regardless of his young age, who possessed a gift. There was no doubt that after those initial 10 days were up, Marcin would continue learning to play the guitar and after just 3 months of lessons, he won his first competition.
Although he had no formal music schedule, it was evident that music came naturally to Marcin. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and it quickly became part of his daily routine. By the age of 12 he discovered Flamenco. He was fortunate to meet Professor Carlos Pinana when he visited Poland and attended his workshops after which Pinana proposed that he would continue to teach Marcin through Skype!
Marcin emphasises that both his teachers were extremely strict. He tells me that his Classical teacher, in particular, was very eccentric and an absolute perfectionist. I asked how he’d felt when Marcin started to branch out from the Classical style that he’d started with, experimenting with new and different styles of music. He tells me that initially his teacher was quite upset but that eventually he has come around to a grudging acceptance of the music Marcin plays now. The two remain exceptionally close, and Marcin tells me how important it is to stay close to your roots in order to know where you’ve come from.
When he was 14, Marcin played in the biggest music show in Poland – ‘Must Be The Music’. He selected a well-known piece called ‘Asturius’, however he had created his own experimental (and controversial) arrangement. And he won!
Well after that he became even more motivated – if that was even possible, because he came across as highly self-motivated before this! He didn’t have an acoustic guitar teacher so the Internet became the best teacher he had. He already had good knowledge of theory and sheet music, thanks to his excellent grounding from his Classical guitar teacher, and he started composing and arranging his own pieces.
In 2016 Marcin released his first album – ‘Hush’. If you want to know the story behind the name, you absolutely have to go to one of his shows. Info on his remaining SA shows is at the end of this post, so keep reading! (Pretoria and Cape Town – you’re in for a treat. If you haven’t booked tickets you’re going to kick yourselves! AND NOW – DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND – AN EXTRA SHOW IN PRETORIA ON 8 MARCH AT 5.30pm!! )
In 2017 he released ‘Toxicity’ – it went out on Marcin’s Facebook page and went viral! Literally millions viewed it. Incidentally, to date, Marcin has amassed 80 million YouTube views! Yup, you read that right … EIGHTY MILLION!!
An endorsement from Ibanez, the 2nd largest guitar brand in the world soon followed, and the doors just kept opening: invitations to perform overseas started arriving, and the world beckoned! In December 2018 Marcin was invited to participate in ‘Italy’s Got Talent’ – all thanks to one of the producers seeing his video online, which resulted in this invitation. Initially, Marcin assumed he’d just be a guest performer on the show, but when he arrived he discovered he’d actually be competing! He played his arrangement of Beethoven’s 5th live, for the first time … and got a Golden Pass from his audition to the final! He went on to win the competition!
I need to emphasise here, that Marcin tells me all of this with the utmost of humility. He is a truly modest, extremely unpretentious young man who is mature way beyond his years. Again, you need to go to his show to witness the easy way he interacts with his audience – not brash, not over-confident – just easy-going and so, so likeable. He good-naturedly shrugs off my questions about how he feels about being described as a ‘prodigy’ and a ‘whizz-kid’. His response being that people can call it what they like, but he’s just going out there and doing what he loves.
All this is undoubtedly thanks to his grounded family life. He has an older brother of 25, and although there’s a bit of an age difference, he’s very involved and supportive in all that Marcin does. His parents travel with him, and he tells me that the credo he lives by is one that his father (who acts as his manager/agent) has given him: “Go out there and play the best you can. Don’t pay attention to what people say.” He firmly believes that you shouldn’t get caught up in all your hype, and he doesn’t think of himself in any different way, other than as just himself. In fact, he says, he doesn’t think of himself much at all – he thinks mainly of his music!
Marcin tells me that he’s lucky to go to one of the best schools in Poland and that they support him in every way, especially when it comes to all his travelling and spending time away from the classroom. He admits he’s a bit nervous about his final school exams that are coming up in May – the equivalent of our South African matric. “And then?” I want to know.
Marcin’s already been accepted to the Berkley College of Music in the USA. He’s deferred his entry to 2020 as he wants to concentrate of composing and arranging for the release of a new album and says that he wants to make the most of all the opportunities that are available to him now. He feels that he’s been spending 6-7 hours in school every day, and come May, he’s super-excited to be able to get so much more free time to play his music.
He wants to experiment with playing electronic music live with a guitar which has never been done before, and he is focused on “BREAKING THE MAINSTREAM” – maybe he’ll even play with an orchestra! He likes the sound of that idea. But he firmly believes that he, and all of us need to remain focussed on our goals and doing what we can to achieve them.
Marcin is thrilled to be in South Africa and has thoroughly enjoyed the response he’s received to his Joburg shows. He can’t wait to entertain Pretoria and Cape Town audiences and is especially excited about performing in an open-air amphitheatre! Make sure you’ve got your tickets!
GUITAR WIZARDS is a concept created by Corneille Hutten of the award-winning international, but proudly South African, Guitar Duo CH2 (the other half of the duo being Dirkie van Staden). They fuse various guitar styles from Flamenco to Finger-style Guitar playing – with great precision on acoustic guitars. This series of concerts promises to be an eclectic lab of creativity; saluting the sounds of Acoustic Guitar virtuosity.
CH2 has been top of the musical ladder for the past eighteen years in South Africa. Winning multiple SAMA and Ghoema Awards, they have produced 11 albums, including the best-selling and Grammy entry “PING” and their most recent offering “Insomnia – The Chapel Master.”
With their flawless, effortless technique and pulsating rhythms, they showcase what can be done on only two classical guitars, and create an exciting instrumental pop sound whilst mimicking drum sounds and bass guitar all at the same time. CH2 has truly developed their own style unique to the band and continues to blow people away with their virtuosity. The members of CH2 keep challenging themselves with new techniques every day and see themselves as pioneers of the classical guitar, pushing the instrument into genres it is not known for.
And now for the really important info … where can you see Marcin and CH2:
Date: Friday 8 March 2019
Time: 8pm AND NOW, DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND AN EXTRA SHOW AT 5.30pm
Venue: Atterbury Teater
Date: Saturday 9 March 2019
Venue: Paul Cluver Amphitheatre, Elgin
Isn’t it just ridiculous that in 2018, we adults have learned absolutely nothing … and that the more things change, the more they stay the same … and that the more progress we’ve made, the more backward we really are?!? Well, thank goodness for bright, bold, unapologetic children’s musical theatre! It says it like it is, without sugar coating or subtlety – kids just don’t buy into that nonsense.
Written by Melvin Tunstall III, composed by our very own SA boykie, Greg Borowsky together with Douglas Lyons, who also wrote the lyrics. The original idea of POLKADOTS was inspired by the Little Rock Nine who ended segregation in American schools in the late ’50’s. But before you start yawning, and wondering how on earth this relates to kids of today … sadly it does!
What’s it all about? Lily Polkadot (the gorgeously bubbly Gugu Dhlamini) has recently moved to the town of Rockaway and is apprehensive about her first day of school. She’s the only Polkadot in a school of Squares. And immediately she’s targeted by Mean Girl, Penelope Square (Kirsty Marillier, in fabulous, full-scale viciousness), purely because of the way she looks – she’s a ’round peg, in a square hole’ and isn’t wanted here! She’s misunderstood wherever she turns, and whatever she says (despite her determined optimism), and even confronted with a separate water fountain to drink from! All she needs is one friend so that she doesn’t feel alone. Surprisingly this comes in the form of Penelope’s shy brother Sky (wonderfully awkward and endearing Bonginkosi Jay Hlatshwayo), and also the sunny teacher Mrs Square (vivacious and highly accomplished
Andrea Shine – who also doubles up as Mama Square).
This small, but extremely skilled cast has no trouble keeping its audience enthralled, engaged and entertained and in just 55 colourful, vibrant minutes, our four main characters teach us all some fundamental life lessons!
There’s a very good reason why POLKADOTS recently won the Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Family Show in New York. The entire show teaches us that what makes us different is what makes us awesome! Not one of us is the same, and why do we even want to be? But then why can’t we accept each other as we are – for after all, we’re all the same on the inside?
Kids of all ages will gain something from POLKADOTS, whether it’s just the fun element, the catchy songs that carry great messages, or the more in-depth meaning of the storyline. There’s really something for everyone here.
This is POLKADOTS’ first international production and it’s not surprising that it’s led by an award-winning local team. Making its debut at this year’s REDFEST, followed by a week of school holiday shows at Redhill, it’s produced by Joseph Gerassi for Redhill School, in association with producers Drew Bakker and Rowan Bakker for &CO, together with associate producer Matthew Counihan. Shelley Adriaanzen directs and choreographs, with musical supervisor by Rowan Bakker and production design by Sarah Roberts.
With its strong anti-bullying message, a tour schedule is in the pipeline. So keep a close eye on the POLKADOTS SA Facebook page for updates.
For info on shows this week, and to book, click here.
Don’t miss POLKADOTS. I can’t recommend it enough!
All cast photo credits: Ronel Hugo
‘Visiting Mr Green’, currently onstage at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square has been getting such rave reviews that Daphne Kuhn has added an extra (final) show – Sunday 10 June, 3pm.
This exceptional production features superb performances from both Michael Richard and Roberto Pombo. It’s most ably directed by Alan Swerdlow with a set designed by Denis Hutchinson, that will instantly transport you into the typical realms of a Manhattan inhabited by those who still maintain their own little corner of Eastern Europe … in America.
Be prepared to run a gamut of emotions as you enter the home and heart of elderly Mr Green, struggling to come to terms with facing life without his beloved soulmate. He’s alone with his fading memories until young, sassy executive, Ross Gardiner unexpectedly shows up, tasked with spending time with Green as community service in return for almost knocking him over!
Together they manage to navigate the choppy waters of what it means to be alone in modern Manhattan, dealing with the judgment, intolerance and narrow-mindedness of others, about all manner of matters. And surprisingly they realise they have a lot to learn from each other, as well as a lot to share.
Visiting Mr Green is absolutely unmissable! It is heartwarming in a way that many modern scripts just aren’t. This year it celebrates its 20th anniversary!
Book through Computicket or by calling the theatre in 011 883 8606.
Written by Mike Kenny
Directed by Francois Theron
Once again, director Francois Theron succeeds in bringing a production to life in such a way that it’s perfectly accessible to and understood by the youngest of theatre-goers. We are so used to productions that are big, bold and shiny – far too brash and sophisticated for the likes of younger minds who are just getting to grips with what theatre is all about and how they can relate to it. The National Children’s Theatre is the ideal space in which they can do that.
I’ll admit from the start, I’m a fan of anything that relates to Peter Pan, and this didn’t disappoint. Sarah Roberts has created costumes and a set that will delight young audiences, and will inspire them to go home and re-enact both in their own homes! She’s made use of everyday household items that children will be able to find around their homes and that of their friends: an umbrella (the big, magical moon), gardening rakes (crocodile teeth), sleeping bags (mermaid tails – assisted by braces) … they might have to look a bit further for a wheelbarrow (a boat)!
The animated cast are an absolute delight and interact energetically with their highly enthusiastic young audience. Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku as Wendy can be forgiven for her somewhat errant accent (slightly British … somewhat not-so-much) because she’s completely endearing and utterly lovely, and she sings beautifully. Daniel Kieth Geddes is Wendy’s younger brother John; he’s also a rather raffish Captain Hook, who’s actual quite wonderfully comical. Danny Meaker is the youngest, sleepiest brother Michael. He’s trying to show his older siblings how brave he is by sleeping out in the back garden with them. Meaker also plays Peter Pan, our well-known protagonist who never wants to grow up, leading Wendy to face her own fears about growing older and leaving childhood behind. Phiphi-Gu’mmy Moletsane is a charming and cheeky Tinkerbell who kids will immediately relate to. She’s mischievous and playful, willing to do anything for her hero Peter Pan.
Based on Mike Kenny’s adaptation of James Barrie’s original Peter Pan, this is a gentle and imaginative way of telling this popular and much-loved story to a far younger audience. The songs are catchy and enjoyable. I’m thinking they’re added in for maximum effect and to hold attention for as long as possible. It certainly works. Parts of the show are interactive and will enthral the young children who sit in front on cushions, and are virtually a part of the actual production. If your child is more sensitive, it might be better to keep them further back with you if you think they might feel slightly intimidated sitting near the front.
I highly recommend this if you have young children. (I’d say from age 4 to about age 12.) Productions at the National Children’s Theatre are of excellent quality, and are one of the best ways to introduce younger audiences to the magic of theatre and imagination.
The theatre is situated at 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown, Johannesburg
Underneath a Magical Moon is on until 15 April 2018.
BOOKINGS: Call the theatre on 011 484 1584/5 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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]
The minute that invitation to the annual year-end pantomime hits your Inbox, your heart gives a little thump of joy … and not just because it signifies that the holidays are around the corner!
This is Janice Honeyman’s 30th pantomime, which is an achievement in itself. The fact that she continues to get it right, drawing in audiences, surprising and delighting the crowds every year, is a testament to her sheer talent and skill. She has a gift of knowing the perfect recipe to thrill her audiences, and Pinocchio, her offering this year is certainly no different. There’s just the right balance of innuendo, political lampooning and catchy tunes (both new and old) to hold the attention of all ages throughout the show. This combines with some truly eye-popping, phenomenal sets and an energetic cast who are all clearly fully immersed in the magical world they’re responsible for creating.
I’m positive that part of Janice’s ongoing ability to succeed at exciting her panto audiences year in and year out, is her own inclusive participation in the process. She’s not merely a writer and director who sits back and watches things happen statically as she’s penned it. When I interviewed some of the cast members during the rehearsal process, the common thread they all spoke about was Janice’s method of character development: allowing each actor to make the role their own and not merely something she’d put down on paper.
Returning to the age-old panto tradition of females taking on male lead roles, Pinocchio, the little wooden puppet who yearns to be a ‘real boy’, is played by Kanyi Nokwe who gives a stellar performance. Her endearing wonderment at the world around her/him is delightful, as is her excellent portrayal of a puppet, unable to move as fluidly as her human counterparts.
The much-loved Tobie Cronje returns to the panto stage as the bumbling Geppetto, who’s always longed for a son. He’s pursued by the hilarious Dame Arletti Spaghetti, played with uproarious aplomb by Grant Towers, in bright, brash, full-on technicolour! She happens to conveniently have a son available, the lazy Lampwick played with appropriate ‘too cool for school’ laid back, nonchalance by Ben Kgosimore. For some reason though, he’s not quite what Gepetto’s looking for in an offspring!
Mark Tatham bounces around the stage with boundless (actually, seemingly endless) vim and verve as a rather whimsical Jiminy Cricket, instructed by Bella Bouboulina, The Blues Fairy (you read that right – she’s a ‘Blues’ fairy with Southern flair) to be Pinocchio’s conscience. Ilse Klink, seasoned professional of SA stage and screen gives the role her own sprinkling of sparkling pizazz: she’s classy, funny, playful and just the right amount of bossy when she needs to be!
And panto always needs its villains doesn’t it? This year, we have André Schwartz as Il Fortunato the Fox who, although not quite as evil as his previous panto counterparts, is quite happy to ham it up as a foxy Phantom of the Opera – it’s inspired and the audience adored it! He’s accompanied by the brilliant Chi Mhende as Pussy Galore. Her claws are permanently out, and she’s wicked enough for the both of them!
The lighting and special effects are spectacular, all complemented by a tight, dynamic ensemble, complete with fresh-faced youngsters from Born to Perform (Stageworx School of Performing Arts).
Being panto, one does tend to slightly lose sight of the theme of the original story being told as it usually gets diluted in the inevitable tweaking of the plot. The actual background of Pinocchio is particularly pertinent to this time of year. It’s all about family values, listening to your conscience and doing the right thing despite all the pressure that’s thrown at you from all sides – and in this day and age it does seem that this happens literally from the day you’re born, as happens to Pinocchio, who candidly proclaims “I’m only one day old!” He still needs to muddle through the ups and downs of the challenges he’s faced with, as one does in life, learning who he can and can’t trust along the way, and having a whole bunch of entertaining and hair-raising adventures while doing so. And we, the audience, are lucky enough to join him on the journey.
Pinocchio, The Ultimate Pantomime Adventure is currently on the Mandela Stage of the Joburg Theatre until December 30th 2017.
To purchase tickets, visit www.joburgtheatre.com or call 0861 670 670. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Joburg Theatre box office or by booking and paying via the Nedbank app and at selected Pick n Pay stores.
So as a Joburg foodie blogger who gets absolutely no opportunity to attend or blog about Kosher food – a little-known niche in Joburg’s wider foodie/blogging community, but something that I live and breathe every single day – I was pretty excited to see that local butchery, Nussbaums had invited two friends of mine, well-known foodies, Jozi Food Whore and The Food Musketeer to sample their excellent deli fare!!
I immediately contacted Nussbaums myself and asked if they actually knew that there were real, live kosher foodie bloggers (okay, at least one … me) living in their midst, and did they want to invite me over too!?! Which led to me and the Other Half (OH) having Sunday lunch at Nussbaums today!!
For those who don’t know, Nussbaums Butchery was actually established way back in 1936. I remember when many kosher establishments had their shops set up in Doornfontein, and this was one of them. We didn’t visit the area often though, as my mom opted for phoning in her orders which would then get delivered! Moving ahead a few decades, and Nussbaums is now a bright, modern space in the heart of Glenhazel. Think small-scale Golders Green with the big mommy-cars, the problematic parking, the Friday shopping frenzy, and you’re pretty much describing what to me is … home!
OH and I arrive in the midst of Sunday lunchtime on a beautiful, hot sunny day; one of the first we’ve had at the start of our Joburg summer. It seems like everyone is making the most of being outside. We’re greeted by the very friendly Dale, who is behind the incredible publicity that Nussbaums is now recieving on social media. Being that I’m no stranger to the shop, I’m quite thrilled to get the opportunity to take pictures (without looking like too much of a weirdo), and get behind the counter too!!
The range of products is impressive, and the stock levels are currently high, due to the expectation of increased buying in the coming week or so. It’s Rosh Hashanah – The Jewish New Year – in less than 2 weeks, and everyone is anticipating the usual eating frenzy that accompanies holiday-time in most cultures. It’s a time of family, friends, get-togethers, and large meals … and a time when we give thanks for what we have, and offer up our prayers of hope for the coming year.
As Nussbaums say “We know meat”, and they certainly take that seriously! Their menu offering is based on the popular New York Deli style. We were presented with 3 of their most popular items: a Hawaiian burger, an Argentinian steak roll, and the piece de resistance, their Hot Beef on Rye!! Oh … My … Goodness!!! This is good, old-fashioned, deli food at its absolute best with no stinting on anything at all. Do your jaw exercises beforehand so you can get your mouth around the huge, generous portions! The smash burgers (because of the method used in ‘smashing’ a ball of mince down to give it its burger form) are really popular and the grill is constantly on the go, doing a steady business in takeaways.
The large staff contingent moves around both the store and outside service area like a well-oiled machine. They’re all extremely efficient, and ever so friendly, and above all, they know their stuff!
Basically Nussbaums is doing a sterling job in keeping up with current trends both in food and on social media. Why shouldn’t our local kosher establishments be marketing themselves in the same way that other stores and restaurants do, especially when they know that what they’re offering is of equal, often better quality? It’s all about being competitive, and knowing how to participate in the playing field, and Nussbaums knows exactly what they need to do to keep themselves relevant and current. Well done and good for them!
Go and visit! They’re at 53 Ridge Road, Glenhazel, and get yourself a smash burger or a beef on rye while you’re there! They’re open from 7:00 am – 20:00 pm Monday to Thursday; 6:00 am – 15:30pm on Fridays and 8.30 – 14:00 on Sundays. They’re closed on Saturdays for Shabbat (the Sabbath). Check which days they’ll be closed during the upcoming Jewish Holiday Season.
You can call them on 011 485-2303, or you can visit their comprehensive website at www.koshermeat.co.za where you can also order online and have your order delivered to you!
You don’t have to keep kosher to eat kosher … you don’t even have to be Jewish!