Of pantomime and music-making

Roshanda Lewis as Cinderella and Nathan Kruger as her Prince in KickstArt’s panto, Cinderella, which opens on December 7 at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Pictures by Val Adamson

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BILLY SUTER chats to newcomer ROSHANDA LEWIS, who fills the title role in KickstArt theatre company’s second revival of Steven Stead’s colourful Cinderella pantomime. The show, designed by Greg King and starring panto favourites Bryan Hiles and Darren King as the Ugly Sisters, runs from December 7 to January 6 at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Also among the cast are Mthokozisi Zulu as Buttons, Nathan Kruger as the Prince, Lyle Buxton as Dandini and Anne-Marie Clulow as the Fairy Godmother. Ticket prices for the panto, choreographed by Jannine Bennewith, range from R140 to R240 each. Booking is at Computicket outlets.
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HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU LANDED THE LEAD ROLE IN “CINDERELLA”, THE 14TH PANTOMIME BY DURBAN’S AWARD-WINNING KICKSTART THEATRE COMPANY?

I was extremely shocked as I thought that I wasn’t fit to be Cinderella, due to my boyish mannerisms. But I was overjoyed that I was given the opportunity to portray her.

YOU ARE NEW ON THE LOCAL THEATRE SCENE. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHERE AND WHEN YOU STUDIED.

I’ve always taken a liking to theatre as I have been involved in school plays and concerts since I was a toddler. I studied Dramatic Arts as a subject in high school and did a few school plays.

My first play was Snoopy and The Peanut Gallery when I was 16, and this was when I started gaining more interest in the craft.

I currently study Music Performance at AFDA College in Durban.

WHAT MARKED YOUR FIRST PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION – AND WHERE AND WHEN? AND WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT THE “CINDERELLA” SEASON?

Cinderella marks my first professional production and I’m looking forward to developing new skills as I have never played a character as lighthearted as her.

WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT PLAYING CINDERELLA – AND HOW HAVE YOU FOUND REHEARSALS SO FAR?

I love how she has the ability to always stay positive and kind-hearted towards others, even when she is ill-treated. Rehearsals are a challenge, but I’m learning more and more every day… and trying to improve on each note I am given.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE AN ACTRESS?

I was born in Cape Town. I knew I wanted to be an actress when I was 16 as I always took part in drama festivals and house plays. I loved every second of it. Unfortunately I don’t study it right now, but I knew I would either act or be a music performer.

ARE ANY OTHERS IN YOUR FAMILY IN SHOWBIZ? 

No, but my brother and I are part of a local band together. He plays drums.

Roshanda Lewis in KickstArt’s lavish Christmas cracker, Cinderella,

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO SEE “CINDERELLA”?

If you would like a moment to be transported to a world filled with magic, wonder, laughter and kindness then this is the production to watch. It’s a show for thewhole family to enjoy!

WHO IS YOUR THEATRE HERO/HEROINE AND WHY?

American actress-choreographer Debbie Allen. Her stage presence is so strong and her ability to adapt to any characteristics required for a certain role is excellent. It is also marvellous how detailed she is. Every action and every word has a purpose and flows effortlessly, which is what I’m trying to learn how to master.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING IN RECENT MONTHS?

I have been performing with the band I am part of. It’s called Indeep. I have also been writing and producing original music.

WHAT PLANS FOR AFTER “CINDERELLA”?

I hope to be part of more theatre productions and to produce and release an EP a year or two from now.

WHAT FIVE WORDS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO DESCRIBE YOUR STRENGTHS? AND WHAT WORDS DESCRIBE YOUR WEAKNESSES?

My strengths in five words would be perseverant, determined, patient, hard-working and commited. My weaknesses include procrastination, being overcritical and having self doubt.

TELL US FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF THAT THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS NOT LIKELY TO KNOW (HOWEVER TRIVIAL THEY MAY BE)

I’m obsessed with the colour yellow, but I prefer wearing black. I’m a self- taught hip-hop dancer. I play the guitar. I only want to wear Vans sneakers. I am a vegetarian.

WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO BE IN A DECADE, AND DOING WHAT?

I hope to have a house of my own with a few pets, and running my own record label while being involved in musical theatre productions.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM STAGE ROLE AND WHY?

I would love to play Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, because I’ve wanted to portray a dark character in a humorous way. I think I can pull off her deadpan expressions.

Bryan Hiles and Darren King as the Ugly Sisters in KickstArt’s lavish Christmas cracker, Cinderella, headed for Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

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