DURBAN’S Steven Stead and Greg King, and their award-winning KickstArt theatre company, have another three stage treats waiting to fill the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre this year – and first up will be a glossy razzle-dazzler, Chicago.
Also scheduled from KickstArt for the University of KwaZulu-Natal campus theatre, according to a lineup report from the theatre’s manager, Jackie Cunniffe, are the children’s delight James and The Giant Peach, and the glossy panto Sinbad the Sailor.
Chicago, which became an Oscar-winning 2002 film with Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere, is scheduled to run from April 7 to 30 at the Sneddon. Tickets range in price from R150 to R280, and booking is already open at Computicket.
Filling the sexy roles of Cook County Jail inmates awaiting murder trials will be Jessica Sole – who played Princess Fiona in KickStart’s Shrek The Musical, and the baker’s wife in the same company’s Into the Woods – and Katy Moore, the villain in the 2016 Kickstart panto Sleeping Beauty and a Durban Theatre Award-winner for her Red Ridinghood in Into the Woods.
Moore has been cast as Velma and Sole as slinky Roxy in this hit show, originally put together by Bob Fosse, John Kander and Fred Ebb.
Featuring a book by Fosse, music by Kander and lyrics by Ebb, the musical will be directed in Durban by Stead, and will have Evan Roberts as musical director, designs by Greg King and lighting design by Tina le Roux.
The show tells of vaudevillian showgirl Velma Kelly and housewife Roxie Hart, each awaiting trial in the 1920s and fighting for the fame that will keep them from the gallows.
The cast will include Jason Ralph, who played the title character in KickstArt’s Sweeney Todd during its original Durban season. He has been cast as suave lawyer Billy Flynn.
The delightful Charon Williams-Ros (fresh from playing Miss Hannigan in the recent touring Annie) is to play “the keeper of the keys, the countess of the clink”, matron Mama Morton.
Durban darling Bryan Hiles has been cast as Amos Hart, Roxie’s loyal and over-trusting husband, a mechanic, who sings the poignant Mister Cellophane.
Stead has confirmed that Anne-Marie Clulow, a recent winner of a BroadwayWorld.Com award for her beggar woman in the touring production of Kickstart’s Sweeney Todd, will play “sob sister” Mary Sunshine in Chicago.
The character – a soppy tabloid columnist who relies more on emotion than thought when it comes to writing her stories – is usually played by a man in drag, but Stead has other ideas.
James and the Giant Peach, casting details of which have still to be announced, is scheduled to run at the Sneddon from mid-June to Mid-July.
The show is inspired by the Roald Dahl children’s book, which was turned into a stop-motion animated film in 1996, centred on James Henry Trotter, who lives in England with his loving parents until his parents are killed by a rhinoceros.
He’s taken in by his two cruel aunts and leaves several years later thanks to an old man giving him magic crocodile tongues which produce a massive single peach – which contains human-like insects who befriend James
Sinbad the Sailor, casting for which has not been announeed, will close KickstArt’s year. A pantomime written and directed by Stead, it is scheduled for performances from December 1 to January 7.
Also headed for the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre this year are:
Keyboard Killers (February 27 to March 5)
The return of Ian von Memerty’s popular show in which he pays tribute in song, dance and on piano to eight of the greats – Stevie Wonder, Noël Coward, John Legend, Irving Berlin, Freddie Mercury, Fats Waller, Cole Porter and Billy Joel. He is accompanied by a driving percussionist and a double bassist.
Mo Magic (March 6 to 12)
Mahommad Moorad, better known as Mo, is back with his elegant magic routine, celebrating his more than 15 years in show business.
Time of the Writer (March 13 to 18)
The annual festival celebrating great and varied writing, presented by the university’s Centre for Creative Arts.
Comedy Masterclass (March 20 to 26)
A return season for Aaron McIlroy’s finest show to date, his solo work looking at what makes great comedy, for which he won a number of Durban Theatre Awards last year.
Comedian Kevin Fraser (March 27 to April 2)
Hilarity with funnyman Kevin Fraser.
National Creative Arts Youth Festival (May 1 to 14)
Various artistic works by teenagers.
Mamba Republic (May 15 to June 4)
A new collection of whacky comedy sketches and satirical swipes from Durban’s Ben Voss and John van de Ruit.
Durban International Film Fest (June 12 to 25)
Movies from all corners of the globe, presented by the university’s Centre for Creative Arts.
Pieter-Dirk Uys (July 24 to August 6)
New production from South Africa’s seasoned master of satire.
Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist (August 7 to 20)
More fun at the expense of people who volunteer to be hypnotised on stage.
Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival (August 21 to September 3)
A grand mix of local and visiting dance works.
Mama Africa (September 4 to 17)
A production presented by the College of Humanities.
Student productions (September 18 to October 1)
Various university student works.
Defending the Caveman (October 2 to 15)
Return season for Tim Plewman’s award-winning look at the battle of the sexes.
Poetry Africa (October 16 to 22)
The annual festival celebrating poetry. Presented by the university’s Centre for Creative Arts.
Dance in Action (October 23 to 29)
Varied student stage works.
Pieter-Dirk Uys (October 30 to November 17)
A new production from the master satirist.
Durban Theatre Awards (November 20)
Annual salute to the best of local professional theatre.