What’s on in Joburg?

Hi all.

The other day I was screening the broadway.com site for plays currently playing on Broadway in New York. Feeling rather left out of the theater fun, I decided to have a look locally at what is showing around JHB. I got the most pleasant surprise at just how much is showing in the next month or so that I thought I just have to share. So without further ado here is my summary of shows currently on in Johannesburg;

Let’s start with Montecasino. There is a fortune going on at Monte between now and June and it is rather exciting. “The play that goes wrong” is currently showing in the small theater. This hysterical comedy of errors comes from the UK and is taking residency here until the end of the month. This play was featured at the Queen’s variety show a few years ago and promise to be an evening filled with laughter.  (I am hoping to see this soon so keep a look out for the review :))

The big musical coming to JHB this April is “Priscilla Queen of the desert) This colourful musical is on from the 29th of April and has just been extended until the 18th of June! Very exciting news. This musical promises to be a feast for the eyes with over 500 beautiful, award winning costumes. The show is about 3 drag queens who embark on the adventure of a lifetime. The cast looks absolutely fabulous and I CANNOT wait to see this show!

On the 15th of May, the wonderful cast of the musical RENT will call Monte their home for one special performance. The original South African cast will come together to perform as a fundraiser for hospiceWits which makes it especially touching since loss and illness are two big themes in the musical.  As always, the music of rent will touch your heart and the story itself will pull on all your heartstrings. This one is not to be missed.

The last biggie at Montecasino for the next few months will be Jonathon Roxmouths ‘the musicals in concert.’ For three nights in June, Jonathon and his legendary voice will be performing all the greatest hits from all our favourite musicals. With a full orchestra and a few tricks along the way, what more can you ask for on a night at the theatre?

On the other side of Town at the Joburg Theater, there is also a wide selection of theatre shows going on. Kids will love watching their favourite characters from Winnie the Pooh come alive at the people’s theatre until the end of the month.

If you miss the special performance of RENT on at Monte, do not stress! There are performances going on at The Joburg Theater until the 5th of June. While it may not be the original cast, it will still be up to our high South African standard of talent.

These are only a few shows picked from a much greater choice. So there is lots of entertainment to choose from 😀 Enjoy, Enjoy, ENJOY!

*lights out*

Natalia

 

 

Advertisements

West Side Story- 1 Feb 2017

Hi everyone,

Last night I had the absolute privilege of attending the official opening night of the South African version of West Side Story. This musical has already completed a successful run in Cape Town and now it is finally Jozi’s chance to witness this master piece. However, I feel, that in order to truly appreciate this show one needs to understand the background from which it stems. For those of you who don’t know, West Side Story is based on the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet is a story about forbidden love and everything that comes along with it. The play in itself is not a complicated storyline however as I watched the musical unfold last night I was left shocked at how relevant and pertinent this story still is today.

The narrative is about two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, who despise one another and want sole ownership of the territory. As ‘Romeo and Juliet’ then goes, one of the Jets falls in love with a young Shark. But here is the Twist, the reason why the Jets dislike the Sharks to such an extent is because the Sharks are immigrants who have left Puerto Rico and are now living in America. The young girl, Maria, moved to America with her family and is now trying to make a life for herself. In doing so, she falls in love with Tony and this is where the trouble starts. I do not want to give away the entire story line but everything makes an appearance in this story- Death, love, commitment, immigration, hope. It is kind of all twisted together to create the most wonderful production.

Technically, this production is spot on. I am consistently impressed with the quality of South African talent. After every show I see, I always comment on the talent that is shown on stage. I admire actors and actresses for their unconditional bravery. Whether that be singing on stage, talking on stage, dancing on stage or whatever else they do on stage, their bravery to do so constantly impresses me. Lynelle Kenned who played the lead role, Maria, stole the show for me. Her voice is beautiful and her portrayal of Maria was so believable and yet it didn’t feel forced. I really enjoyed watching her on stage.

Another performance that stood out for me was Bianca Le Grange’s portrayal of Anita. The character of Anita is feisty, confident and loud however I felt Bianca brought a sense of calmness to the character. Anita goes through a lot during the narrative of the production and the way Bianca played the ups and downs was really wonderful. She showed the audience both strength and vulnerability when needed. Her voice, by the way, out of this world!

I am an art department baby. In the final year of my degree I specialized in Special Effects makeup. This is why I loved the parts of the production that included SFX. The show made use of false blood which can sometimes loose effect on stage. Having said this, the SFX that was used in this production was just right! It was bright enough to make an impact but not in your face that it looked false. I haven’t seen these kind of effects used on stage before and I must say, it really added a whole new side to the show.

West Side Story is not your typical ‘glitzy’ musical. There is a roughness and a strength to the musical that feels almost male driven. However, since the show is about forbidden love, the female energy as well as the male energy provide a wonderful contradiction that seems to balance out. The boys are violence driven, they want to fight. Each side wants to be the winner but, I felt, that the woman allowed me to relate even more to the story. The men might be fighting for dominance but the woman are fighting to create a liberating life for themselves, with their men by their sides of course. I really enjoyed watching this dynamic be played out on stage.

West Side Story is the type of musical that feeds my theater obsession. Reason being that this show explores more than an over the top dance sequence. It shows off life. It shows the audience what they are experiencing and the audience responds. And it is this transaction between audience and cast that fascinates me. On stage last night I watched actors pretend to be characters that were going through situations but what I took from it was so much more. Good old Shakespeare knew what he was talking about!

Congratulations to the entire team that put together this musical, it was well worth the wait.

West Side Story is on at the Joburg Theater until the 5th of March, DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!

*lights out*

Natalia

xxx

Robin Hood and the Babes of the wood (2016)

Hi everyone,

It’s that time of year again. Schools are beginning to quieten down for the year, Christmas presents are beginning to be thought about, last minute holidays are being booked and the annual PANTOMIME is on! This year Director Janice Honeyman chose a new story to share- Robin Hood and the babes of the wood. The show has a star-studded cast including Kate Normington as The spirit of the wood fairy, Izak Davel as Robin Hood, Graham Hopkins as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, Carmen Pretorius as Maid Marian as well as many other talented South African stars.

There is such a sense of fun at the Pantomime. Everyone just wants to have a good time and relax. It really is a great atmosphere to be a part of. There is always plenty to keep everybody entertained. Cultural humor for the adults, extravagant costumes, heroes for the boys, fairies, and princesses for the girls and music that everyone can enjoy. It truly is a family affair.

The cultural references in this year’s script were so up to date that it felt like the characters were living in our present South African society. Someone must have their fingers on the pulse in the creative team because everything was so current and SO funny. Everything from taxes to social media culture, the South African government and the American election were thrown together to create a pop of well, culture.

My only problem this year was that I found the story a bit hard to follow, however, this did not lessen my enjoyment because there were plenty of costumes, sets, jokes and music to keep me going… Going back to set design, I am SO impressed with the set design that I have seen in the past few shows I have been too. Each show out does the previous one when it comes to the art department and this show was no exception. The sets were so colorful, interesting and unique that it truly brought the characters to life.

The cast of this show is so talented. Having seen a number of cast members, Natasha Van De Merwe, Bongi Mthombeni, Candida Mosoma and Nurit Graff (to name a few) in other productions I got so excited at the prospect of seeing them on stage again! Everyone who walked on stage performed with such enthusiasm, energy and commitment that it made me happy to watch people enjoying their craft and succeeding. I always feel that any actor, singer or dancer on stage is so brave because they put themselves forward for public scrutiny and they hardly receive enough credit for their hard work and dedication.

There was some stand out moments of course. The merry men performed a hilarious song about their manly-ness, which my 11-year-old brother found most amusing. The two babes Tokkel (Dale Scheepers) and Tina (Kyra Green) brought some heart into the show. Friar Tuck (Desmond Dube) and Little John (Phumi Mncayi) do a Hilarious rendition of ‘the bear necessities’… the list could go on and on…

Naturally, the only thing left for me to say is congratulations to the entire cast and crew on a fun-loving, entertaining and exciting production!

The show runs at the Joburg Theater until the 30th of December so be sure to book your ticket for an awesome day out….

*lights out*

Natalia

xxx

Private Presley…. A salute to the king.

Many little girls dream of one day becoming a ballerina. However I don’t think many of their dreams include dancing to the iconic rock and roll music of the one and only Elvis Presley. Well I think they should because what a wonderful combination. Ballet and the music of Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll. We set out to see the show Private Presley, a salute to the king, not knowing what to expect. Ballet can often turn people away because it is very specific. You either love it or you don’t. Luckily, I do love it. I think it is a very emotional and romantic form of dance and I feel that it portrays story so strongly.

The show travels through the life of Elvis. Through the music and beautiful choreography we see the different stages of his life. Right from the beginning of his career to the end of his marriage to Priscilla. Act one covers favorites such as ‘blue suede shoes’, ‘hound dog’, ‘blue moon’, ‘burning love’ and ‘jail house rock.’ The auidance loved seeing all the flips and tricks that the dancers pulled off. You could see how incredibly strong each and every cast member was. During interval I passed many auidance members and heard them talking about how impressed they were with the routines.

The second act came along and the energy only intensified. I was excited to watch another 19 dances. The second act included popular songs such as ‘can’t help falling in love’ which was absolutely breath taking. One of my favorite routines of the show. ‘Love me tender’, ‘all shook up’, ‘a little less conversation’ and many more. I felt that the second act included more of a story than the first, which I really enjoyed. There were such beautiful moments between Elvis and Priscilla during the second act.

The thing I love most about live theater is that it is live and no two shows are the same but that also means that you can’t just edit out little glitches. The costumes were lovely and everyone looked the part but there were moments where I felt that the costumes didn’t allow for as much movement as needed. However this did not detract from the style and sophistication of the production. The lighting was stunning and added so much to each number. The choreography was brilliant. It really showed off each dancer and their talent. The stage was used very well and the routines were very high energy.

The show makes use of original recordings of Elvis singing his songs as well as news and radio reportings about him  and his life. I did miss the drama of a live orchestra but the recordings worked and helped to show off the dancing rather that competing with it. Which is what live music could have done in this context

Now we all know how elegant and strong female ballerinas are. But, I would like to give a special mention to the male part of the cast. I have never seen such strong and powerful dancers. I was in awe of the power that each dancer had. The way that they danced across the stage was nothing less than manly and I caught myself wishing I was the ballerina that was being thrown and caught by the strong male leads. They were really amazing.

All in all I really enjoyed the show and I would definitely  recommend it for all ballet lovers and non ballet lovers alike. The energy is so high that you can forget you are watching a ballet and rather feel like you are watching a Elvis Presley concert. I left the theater wanting to put my old ballet shoes on and dancing to the jailhouse rock.

*lights out*

image

Excitedly awaiting the show to begin.
Excitedly awaiting the show to begin.

The show runs at the Joburg Theatre till the 25th of October.Visit http://www.joburgtheatre.com for more information and ticket prices.

Natalia xx