BY BILLY SUTER
SOME 20 years after he last performed to the public in Durban, former Napac dancer, actor and singer Joseph Clark returns soon for four performances of his acclaimed Queen tribute show, which is headed for the Netherlands soon.
Scheduled for the Rockwood Theatre at Sibaya Casino, the two-hour The Music of Queen will have Clark performing alongside Axe Lourens on lead guitar and vocals, Richard Brokensha on guitar and vocals, Kyle Petersen on keyboards, piano and vocals, Trevor Donjeany on bass and Marlon Witbbooi on drums.
Performances are from September 6 to 9, at 8pm Thursday to Saturday and at 2pm on the Sunday, with tickets priced at R180 each. To book phone (031) 161 0000 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Music of Queen arrives in Durban after having played to more than 30 000 Queen fans in The Gelredome Stadium in The Netherlands in 2011, after which Clark and his band enjoyed European theatre runs and outdoor concert performances until November 2017.
Considered one of the most popular of Queen tribute artists, Clark is not an impersonator of Freddie Mercury.
“I’m not a believer in impersonating great artists. To pay tribute to their music, to keep it alive and new and fresh, is the greatest compliment to their genius,” says this star of Geoffrey Sutherland’s ahead-of-its-time Queen at the Opera, staged to great success at Durban’s Playhouse in the 1990s.
He continues; “I’m thrilled to have been able to perform back-to-back in Europe, Cape Town, Pretoria, Namibia and now Durban, before returning to The Netherlands in November.”
Apart from classics such as We Will Rock You, Another One Bites The Dust, We Are The Champions, I Want To Break Free, Innuendo, Killer Queen, Fat Bottomed Girls, Bicycle Race and Bohemian Rhapsody, the show also features lesser-known Queen hits such as You Take My Breath Away, Is This The World We Created, Too Much Love Will Kill You, Mother Love and In My Defence.
A regular soloist with symphony orchestras in South Africa, Clark has been the lead vocalist with the NNO (Noord Nederlands Orkest), since 2009, performing throughout the Netherlands, including the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Born and raised in Texas, he left his ballet career in America when he was brought to South Africa to dance the lead role in Swan Lake and Romeo & Juliet.
He soon expanded to musical theatre and won immediate acclaim and national awards for dancing, acting and singing.
Clark’s musical theatre roles include Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story, Riff/Bernardo in West Side Story, El Gallo opposite pop star Jason Donovan in The Fantasticks, Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, the narrator in Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Anthony in Sweeney Todd and Whizzer in March of the Falsettos.
One of the highlights of his career was singing for Nelson Mandela at his 85th birthday celebration.
“For the past 27 years I have been performing the music of Queen, and it never ceases to amaze me how versatile and courageous they were in producing such musical depth and variety,” says Clark.
“The respect I have for their individual and combined genius in composing the most powerful and popular rock music in history is limitless.
“When I began acting in high school, musical theatre became my passion. From that, classical music became my constant companion for the rest of my career.
“There are subtle similarities in Freddie’s and my life. Our musical tastes seem compatible considering we both were influenced by the rock and roll era going into the time of The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
“We both sang in our school choirs. We were both passionate about the theatre. He wanted to be Elvis; I wanted to be Gene Kelly. He adored the ballet and even appeared as a special guest artist with the Royal Ballet; I became a professional ballet dancer.
“He was passionate about classical music; as a dancer, I loved, lived and breathed it every day of my life for 19 years. We were both born in the month of September! Both of us never had any formal vocal training.
“And yet, geographically, socially and personally we couldn’t be more miles apart. Freddie was born and spent his childhood in exotic Zanzibar and I was born and raised in the flat plains’ city of Amarillo, Texas.
“He started his life as an African son and for the past 34 years I ended up a citizen of South Africa. He attended a prestigious British boarding school outside Bombay; I attended a public school, a couple of blocks from my home. He played cricket; I played baseball. He ended up playing to in excess of 10 million people around the world; I have not!”