BY BILLY SUTER
Twenty Questions for Durban singer-actress Haylea Hounsom-Heyns, who filled the title role in KickstArt’s 2016 Durban pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, and appeared as Rapunzel in Into the Woods.
She and versatile jazz pianist Melvin Peters will perform from 6pm to 9pm on February 13 at Durban’s Windsor Tennis Club – opposite Glenwood Boys’ High School – which features different performers every Monday.
Their informal performance, titled The Game of Love, offers a mixed bag of love songs, Monday being the day before Valentine’s Day.
If you wish, play some friendly tennis from 4pm to 6pm, then grab a drink and wors roll or toasted sandwich from the club pub. The music flows from 6pm to 9pm and the cost for the tennis and the tunes is R50 a head. For more details, phone Roland at 082 499 8636.
WHAT RANGE OF SONGS CAN WE EXPECT AT ‘TENNIS &TUNES’ – AND WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COME ALONG AND LISTEN?
Melvin specialises in jazz piano, and I specialise in classical music and musical theatre, so we will be performing a variety of songs from all three genres, and will also be including some easy-listening contemporary songs from some of my favourite pop singers – Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Adele.
Because it’s Valentines Eve, the theme for all of our numbers is love… and the genres we’re covering are quite diverse, so there will be a familiar favourite for everyone coming to listen.
HAVE YOU AND MELVIN PERFORMED A LOT TOGETHER BEFORE?
Melvin and I met through a mutual friend and veteran musician, John Gaye, just before I enrolled to study music at the university in 2010. I was hired as the singer for a gig John was putting together, and Melvin was the pianist. We got along so well and became instant friends. We have performed together at countless gigs, corporate events, weddings and concerts at his church over the years. We have a unique bond and a special friendship based on a mutual love for music.
Even though John is retired, we will be performing with him at Amberglen in Howick this Sunday with the Melvin Peters Quartet as a warm up for Tennis & Tunes. You could say it is Melvin and my seven-year ‘friend-i-versary’.
THE SHOW IS A DAY BEFORE VALENTINE’S DAY – ANY SURPRISES IN STORE AT THE GIG?
In the spirit of Tennis & Tunes, and the fact that we are performing on Valentine’s Eve, we have titled our show The Game of Love, and will be singing a variety of different love songs from different genres – songs about being in love, looking for love or losing love.
WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE AS YOUR PERFECT VALENTINE’S DATE – AND WHY?
Beyonce – because she is my woman crush. A nice meal and a casual cruise on Jay Z’s yacht…yes please! LOL.
WHAT IS THE BEST VALENTINE’S DAY MEMORY YOU HAVE?
Probably getting a rose in high school from a “secret admirer” (in handwriting suspiciously similar to my mom’s.)
YOU HAD A GOOD YEAR LAST YEAR. WHAT HIGHLIGHTS AND COMMENTS?
It was a really fun year for me, show-wise – I did Into the Woods, Shrek The Musical (Gold Reef City, Johannesburg), My first Barnyard Show (Amadeus Rocks) and ended on a high note with the title role in the panto, Sleeping Beauty. It was lots of hard work, late nights and time away from home, but I grew and learnt so much. I am looking forward to seeing what 2017 holds for me.
WHERE AND WHEN WERE YOU BORN – AND WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN SINGING AND SHOWBIZ?
I was born in Empangeni, Zululand, in 1986. My first time on stage was when I was 10 – I played Mr Tummnes in the Mtunzini Primary School play, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I absolutely loved it. I think that’s when the performing bug bit me! From then on I joined the choir and went to singing lessons when I started high school.
WHAT FORMAL VOCAL OR OTHER THEATRICAL TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD?
I started vocal training at 14 and my teacher – Helen Vermaak – always encouraged me to sing classical music. I think my voice had a natural classical quality, but she believed that if you could get classical singing right it would make you a better singer and that you could switch to other genres more easily.
I eventually went on to study a BA Music & Drama Performance at UKZN and trained with Lauren Dasappa, who also directed me towards classical music and musical theatre.
WHAT ARE AMONG YOUR PLANS AND AMBITIONS?
I have big dreams and small… they range from singing on Broadway to singing the national anthem at a Springbok game. I think it is really important to have dreams and to strive to achieve them. Some of my immediate plans include recording a Christmas album with Melvin Peters soon.
WHAT MARKED YOUT FIRST TIME ON STAGE – EVER?
I have always longed to be on stage – when I was younger I would dress up in my parents clothes and put on little shows for my family in the lounge. My first official time on stage was in my primary school play, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
WHAT MARKED YOUR FIRST BIG BREAK?
For me, my first memorable break was getting into a KickstArt musical – Sweeney Todd. Although I was only in the ensemble I learned and grew so much as a performer, and this led to other work and many more shows with bigger roles. I also attribute many of my career opportunities to friend and fellow performer Shelley McLean. I will always be grateful to her for seeing my potential and nurturing my growth and confidence.
WHAT OPERATIC WORK HAVE YOU DONE?
A Night at the Opera with the PMB City Orchestra.
WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?
Caring, creative, gullible, passionate, polite.
WHAT ARE FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF (HOWEVER TRIVIAL) THAT PEOPLE ARE UNLIKELY TO KNOW?
I am completely obsessed with my pet rabbit – Rue (@ruerabbit on Instagram)
I am addicted to coffee and peanut butter.
I am a qualified copywriter.
I have an honours degree in Media & Communications
I can do a man’s push up.
YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?
It was in Sweeney Todd. I was performing as one of the lunatics from Fogg’s Asylum. During a scene withy choreography the heel of my boot got caught in my skirt and tripped me up. I fell to the floor as I was exiting the stage, but couldn’t get up. I was literally pinned to the floor. In a panic, I dragged myself off on my hands and knees, desperate to get off before the next scene started.
HOBBIES, PASTIMES AND FAVOURITE THINGS?
I really love baking. (I make a delicious rainbow cake with milky bar icing). I also really like keeping fit and working out – I go to gym most days, or run along the promenade on the beachfront. My favourite things are my pet bunny, my guitar, Nespresso machine and Disney movies.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING SOMEONE HAS SAID OF YOU?
“I didn’t think you could sing pop music.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR, MEAL, BAND, ALBUM, TV SHOW AND MOVIE?
Pastel pink, Gnocchi Bolognese, Platform Jazz, Spice Up Your Life by Spice Girls, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Moulin Rouge.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY FIVE THINGS FROM FIVE DIFFERENT PEOPLE, WHAT AND WHO WOULD THEY BE?
Jennifer Aniston’s toned arms; Taylor Swift’s GrammyAward; Nelson Mandela’s wisdom; Katherine Jenkins’s Swarovski Crystal microphone; and Jay Z and Beyonce’s yacht.
WHAT NEXT FOR YOU, SHOW WISE?
A classical Sunday soiree with Andrew Warburton, at Cowan House Theatre on March 5. I am also working on some original songs at Sonic Studios, and have some other musical projects in the pipeline… to be revealed soon.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Simplicity. Be honest, be kind to people, be kind to animals, do what you love, admit your mistakes, pray, dream and recycle.