13 in 2013: A look ahead at South African theatre attractions
2013 looks set to be an exciting year on South African stages, with a diverse mix of plays, musicals, opera, dance, physical theatre productions and cabarets set to appear in theatres across the country. Here is a look at just 13 of the productions that will take to the boards this year.
THE THREE LITTLE PIGS begins with the murder of two good pigs, two police officers whose bodies are found on the scene of a savage revenge crime. With the third little pig's life at risk, the hunt for the prime suspect, a wolf, begins, resulting in a taut psychological thriller set in a world where ANIMAL FARM meets RESERVOIR DOGS. Director Tara Notcutt has named 2013 'The Year of the Pig': 'We will be touring THE THREE LITTLE PIGS to Cape Town, Perth, Jo'burg, Grahamstown, New York, Amsterdam, London and Dublin - wowzer.' The Cape Town leg of the run kicks off this month at the Baxter Theatre's Golden Arrow Studio.
'2013 is going to be a very exciting year for Abrahamse & Meyer Productions,' says Marcel Meyer. 'One of our major projects will be staging the South African premiere of Tennessee Williams's "sophisticated fairy tale", THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE, starring the great Antoinette Kellermann as Flora "Sissy" Goforth. Sissy, a much-married, now-widowed millionairess, is spending her last days dictating her memoirs when she is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome young poet.' Following the company's production of Williams's KINDGOM OF EARTH last year, this production is one that should not be missed.
The Tony Award-winning musical JERSEY BOYS opened on Broadway in 2006. Telling the story of the Four Seasons, the show has music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Of this production, which features a local cast, Resident Director Anton Luitingh says: 'I am looking forward to seeing the South African audience reaction to what has to be one of the most dynamic books written for a musical in a long time. Accompanied by some of the greatest songs of the 60s, this will most certainly be the slickest, most sophisticated and sexiest production on South African stages in 2013.'
With six production projects on the go, Simon Cooper, the co-owner of the Kalk Bay Theatre and co-counder of KBT productions, picked THE SNOW GOOSE as one of the productions to which he is looking forward: 'If I have to pick one, I will choose THE SNOW GOOSE - an adaptation of Paul Gallico's classic with James Cairns and Taryn Bennett. Why? Because this is close to my heart and is interwoven in my life and it is going to be amazing.' Cairns and Bennet were electric together in SIE WEISS ALLES, a show that also dealt with the themes of friendship and love against the horrific backdrop of war.
Danced to the music of Leo Delibes, COPPELIA is an enchanting and light-hearted ballet. Doctor Coppelius creates a life-sized dancing doll, who becomes the object of village swain Franz's attraction, much to the dismay of his beloved, Swanilda. Laura Bosenberg and Thomas Thorne feature in the lead roles, alternating with Elizabeth Nienaber, Celeste George, Ivan Boonzaaier and Alexander Vivian-Riding. In a production by Robin van Wyk, Cape Town City Ballet promises an 'ideal entertainment for the whole family.' Be quick though - there are just a few performances left at the Artscape in Cape Town before the show closes.
CARDENIO, Shakespeare's "lost play", reimagined by Gregory Doran, tells the tale of a young, courtly and handsome Spaniard, who has to battle the lusty challenges of a young nobleman, Fernando, to re-capture the woman he loves. Under the direction of Roy Sargeant, CARDENIO is one of the two Shakespearean presentations at Maynardville this year, an open-air venue where the Bard's work is presented annually in the mid-summer. (The other production is A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, under the direction of Fred Abrahamse, in a production seen at the National Arts Festival and at the Artscape Theatre Centre last year.)
One of the presentations for this year's Suidoorsterfees at the Fugard, THE ORANGE EARTH tells the story of Johnny Adams, who stands accused of planting a bomb that killed a young white girl in a shopping centre. In the courtroom and in his prison cell, his thoughts turn to the past and to the orange-red soil of his Boland birthplace. Director Matthew Wild looks forward to working with 'a killer cast of 5 made up of Oscar Petersen, Quanita Adams, Albert Pretorius, Andrew Laubscher and Cedwyn Joel - it doesn't get much better than an ensemble like that!'
STARLIGHT EXPRESS, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe's spectacular Cinderella story about trains will have an extended run on the Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theatre from July through September. Directed by Janice Honeyman, with choreography by Karen Bruce, this new production will feature scenic design by James Macnamara, costume design by Sarah Roberts and lighting design by Declan Randall. The company will be led by HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL alumnus David Schlachter as Rusty and Carly Graeme (THE BOYS IN THE PHOTOGRAPH) as Pearl.
KickstArt returns to Theatre and the Bay with DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER,a nifty comedy farce about double adultery and gourmet cooking from BOEING-BOEING playwright, Marc Camoletti. Set in a stylish private game lodge, this farce follows the antics of Bernie, who hopes to entertain his mistress, Suzy, for the weekend. Bernie thinks he is well-prepared: he has hired a cordon bleu chef, prepared to send his wife to her mother's and has even invited his best friend as a suitable alibi. What Bernie is not prepared for is when things go wrong....
Having completed the Johannesburg leg of its South African tour, DIRTY DANCING moves to the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town this month. The show takes the beloved film, telling the story of Baby and Johnny whose lives intertwine in the course of one magical summer, and puts it on stage. Describing itself as 'an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensationally sexy dancing,' the show features the hit songs from the film - such as "Hungry Eyes" and "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - performed by a live band.
In BETWEEN, three separate, yet suggestively interlinked, stories explore how love can transcend sexual boundaries and what happens when the love disappears and the loss becomes acute. Oskar Brown, the director of FourwoRD Productions is excited to be travelling with BETWEEN: 'It is a two hander play about sex, love and everything that happens in between. It has been described as 'sexy and engaging theatre with male sexuality rarely portrayed so honestly.' We are excited because we will not only be performing in Brighton, Edinburgh and Berlin, but also back where it all started in Cape Town and Johannesburg.'
Godfrey Johnson will be back onstage at the Kalk Bay Theatre with THE GODFREY JOHNSON SHOWCASE in February, presenting a different selection from his acclaimed repertoire of shows - which include THE SHADOW OF BREL, STORIES OF CRIME AND PASSION and COWARD AND COLE - each night. Johnson is also looking forward to a new play he will be tackling this year: 'A piece by Karen Jeynes, VASLAV, about the great ballet dancer - Vaslav Nijinsky. I am looking forward to paying homage to one of my other great heroes. Karen has written a very beautiful piece and I cannot wait to be part of it.'
The first instalment of BIG BOYS DON'T DANCE followed the bachelor party and pre-wedding high jinks of brothers Ash and Brad, drawing the audience in with high energy dance and feel-good comedy. This year, say Vanessa Harris and Ash Searle, the co-owners of Follow Spot Productions, the big boys will return to South African stages in BIG BOYS DON'T DANCE II. Who knows what they have been up to since we last saw them?
Of course this list does not cover nearly everything that will appear on South African stages this year. To find out more about what is on stage in South Africa as 2013 progresses, make sure to visit BroadwayWorld South Africa for information, listings and reviews. In the meantime, scroll down to the comments section below to share what you are looking forward to on stage in South Africa this year - and go see a show!
Photo credit: Niels Bouman (BETWEEN)