Interview: Schoeman Smit talks about bringing DEVIL SONG to life at the Avalon Auditorium

This new cabaret runs at the Avalon Auditorium 27 March - 5 April

By: Mar. 02, 2023
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Interview: Schoeman Smit talks about bringing DEVIL SONG to life at the Avalon Auditorium Dal Segno Theatre is bringing what they're calling a devilish new cabaret to the stage this month. DEVIL SONG is set to premiere to Cape Town audiences at the Avalon Auditorium at the Homecoming Centre towards the end of March. Star of the show, Schoeman Smit chatted to us about bring DEVIL SONG to life.

BWW: Let's start off with, how did you get involved with DEVIL SONG?

Schoeman Smit: I have been collaborating with director David Fick on this project from the start. It's been a journey that has spanned 6 or 7 years, and one that spoke to both of us as a possible project. It is inspired by song cycle, THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS, originally written for Audra McDonald and premiered in 2004. David and I are constantly on the lookout for unconventional material. We both found playing with these age-old themes very appealing and giving them a modern feel. We had plans to stage it before the Covid-19 pandemic, but obviously these were put on hold, so we are delighted to finally be able to premiere it from the end of March, and of course staging it at the Homecoming Centre's Avalon Auditorium is a real thrill. I never had the chance to play at the venue in its previous incarnation so it's a bucket list moment for me. The stars really did align on this project.

BWW: The description of the cabaret says it's a series of vignettes. Do you play one character throughout, or do you have to move into different characters for each scene or song?

Schoeman Smit: I play different characters in each of the pieces. Some of them are well-known characters from fiction but other "villains" act more to illustrate how, given the right circumstances or series of choices, how anyone could be driven to commit any of these sins.

BWW: What are some the songs that audience members can look forward to (if you're allowed to give that away)? And what are your favourites that you get to perform?

Schoeman Smit: The songs were written by several well-known American Musical Theatre Composers. Writers such as Michael-Jon Lachiusa, Jake Heggie, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty. South African born writer Joanna Weinberg has also contributed. We are honoured to have the opportunity to incorporate their compositions. Although the songs are not well known, even to fans of the writers, the styles are so varied that it would be hard not to find something that appeals to your taste. The pieces range from very high-concept pieces, almost art song in nature, to jazz ditties, to good old fashioned musical theatre comedy songs. As a singer it is exciting to jump from one style to another and try to do them justice.

BWW: Your music history is quite varied - from opera to Broadway musicals to children's theatre. Can you tell us a bit more about your training and what kind of singing you prefer to do?

Schoeman Smit: Well, I'm a third-generation professional singer. Both my mother and Grandfather were opera singers. So, it was only natural to go into the 'family firm'. The other things came about by happy accident. When I started out in the early 2000s, there were less and less professional opportunities for classical singers here in SA.

One day I got a call from the National Children's Theatre in Johannesburg asking if I would be interested in playing Collin in THE SECRET GARDEN. They were looking for an actor who could fit the costume (it was made for a 15-year-old boy) and who could sing some tricky music. That phone call from Joyce Levinsohn put in motion a now almost 20 year career and I am forever grateful to her for that lucky break.

I don't really sing classical music anymore and I will try almost anything at least once.

BWW: And back to DEVIL SONG - what are you most looking forward to about bringing this show before an audience?

Schoeman Smit: These characters are wonderful to step into. I'm both challenged as an actor and as a person. Some are down-right ludicrous; others are unnerving, some a little sad. I hope the audience will be open to being challenged on this journey by this wild bunch of baddies.

Photo credit: Canned Rice

DEVIL SONG will be on at the Avalon Auditorium at the Homecoming Centre (previously the Fugard) from 27 March - 5 April. Tickets are available via Webtickets and are R120 each.