BILLY SUTER chats to fast-rising Durban singer MARIANTHE PANAS, a versatile 17-year-old whose vocal clout has already seen her win prizes, perform in hit musicals, sweep the boards at eisteddfods and, as a 12-year-old, do very well on e.tv’s SA’s Got Talent. She is now starring in Listen, an acclaimed show headed for Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, Umbilo, at 8pm on Friday and Saturday (February 8 and 9) and 2pm on Sunday (February 10). Also featuring Bernelee Frick and the Shizam band, the production features songs from the musicals. Tickets cost R150 (R130 for pensioners and students with cards) and booking is at Computicket outlets or by calling Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.
SEE MY FEBRUARY 5 POST FOR A CHANCE TO WIN TICKETS FOR EIGHT PEOPLE TO SEE “LISTEN”
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO SEE “LISTEN” AND HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN IT?
Listen is an intimate evening with some of the greatest songs of musical theatre, performed by Bernelee Frick and myself, accompanied by Nick Wium and the band Shizam.
We are performing songs from musicals such as Hair, Grease Evita and Dreamgirls, to name a few. We have the ultimate classics, such as I Know Him So Well from Chess, as well as modern songs from the movie musical Burlesque, which starred Cher and Christina Aguilera.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MOMENT IN THE SHOW?
I have many favourite moments in the show. The songs we sing are really beautiful and most of them mean something to me.
HOW DID “LISTEN” FIRST COME ABOUT?
It was created by Nick Wium, the music director of Crawford College, La Lucia, to be performed at The Hilton Arts Festival two years ago. Since then we have performed at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Kloof and at the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg.
So far the performances have been very successful and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to perform for Durban audiences.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO SINGING – AND AT ONE POINT DID YOU KNOW THIS WAS SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO CONCENTRATE ON FOR YOUR FUTURE?
My granny taught me how to sing Greek nursery rhymes when I was two years old. Then, when I was in Grade 1, my music teacher, Norraine Swanby, heard me singing in class lessons and encouraged me to join the choir. I sang my first solo that year in our Christmas production and I’ve been singing ever since then.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST PUBLIC PERFORMANCE AS A SINGER – AND WHEN AND WHERE WAS IT? WHAT DO YOU RECALL OF THAT EXPERIENCE?
I entered Gateway To Fame when I was 12 and that was the first time I sang publicly. I sang Titanium by Sia and I ended up finishing the competition in second place which was so great to achieve
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT EVER ON STAGE?
When I was 14, I auditioned to be part of the Born To Perform showcase at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg. At that point I knew I wanted to sing, but I wasn’t sure which path I was wanting to take.
I ended up being the only performer from Durban in the show. I performed the closing number and I sang Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl. That was the biggest audience I had sung to back then and I knew as soon as I stepped on that stage that musical theatre was what I wanted to pursue in my life.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST PRIZE/ACCOLADE YOU EVER RECEIVED FOR SINGING?
When I was eight I entered the Queensburgh Festival, an inter-schools competition, and I came first and won a trophy.
When I was 13, I was the Grand Champion in the SA Championships of the Performing Arts. I won a free trip to Los Angeles to compete in the World Championships where I received two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER SINGING SUCCESSES YOU HAVE HAD – AND OF WHICH PRIZES ARE YOU MOST PROUD?
Two years ago I made it to the semi-finals of SA’s Got Talent where I placed third in my semi-final – and at at the end of last year I competed in Galleria’s Got Talent in Kloof. I finished first and won a trip for two to Los Angeles which I am very excited about!
WHAT WOULD YOU RATE AS THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
Everything I’ve done is a highlight in my career so far, but something that was very special to me was recording my own single, Here I Am, which is currently on iTunes and Apple Music.
WHAT ARE SOME WELL-KNOWN SINGERS YOU HAVE SUNG WITH?
When I was 15 I had an amazing opportunity to perform in Supreme Divas at the Joburg Theatre, alongside Tima Reece, Lelo Ramasimong, Elizca Coetzer and Tracey-Lee Oliver. It was such a great experience that I will always remember it.
I’ve also had the privilege to perform alongside Kurt Darren, Jonathan Roxmouth, Samantha Peo, the first winner of The Voice SA Richard Stirton and Idols 2017 winner, Paxton.
WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SING WITH?
I would love to sing with Jonathan Roxmouth again as I love watching him perform and he is a true musical theatre inspiration.
WHERE AND WHEN WERE YOU BORN AND WHAT FORM AND SCHOOL ARE YOU IN?
I was born in Durban, but I come from a Greek heritage. I am currently in Grade 12 at Crawford College, La Lucia.
WHAT FORMAL VOCAL/ACTING LESSONS HAVE YOU HAD?
Since the age of nine, I have been doing classical voice training with Nick Wium and have completed all my grades for the London Trinity College Classical Singing exams.
I have also completed all my LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) acting exams through Durban Actors Studio which I have been part of for years. I am currently doing my last exam for LAMDA Musical Theatre through Durban Actors Studio.
WHAT ARE YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES OF APPEARING IN DURBAN THEATRE COMPANY KICKSTART’S HIT MUSICALS “ANNIE” AND “SHREK THE MUSICAL”?
My first show with KickstArt was playing an orphan in their production of Annie and the year after that I played the teen Princess Fiona in their production of Shrek the Musical. Both experiences were so much fun and I loved every minute of being in those shows!
WHAT PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
My first priority is to finish school and then apply to study musical theatre at university.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?
My dream role is Eponiene in Les Miserables. I’ve been singing On My Own for years and after finally seeing the production it’s been a dream of mine to play her.
WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?
Determined, caring, helpful, passionate and compassionate.
YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?
In Shrek The Musical, my piece in the show was a sequence showing the development of Fiona’s life, growing up in the tower through a song. During one performance, when I appeared after Baby Fiona, I started singing, but something happened with the music and it didn’t fit with what I was singing, so I just stopped and waited to figure out what was going on.
I remember seeing some of the actors in the wings looking really confused and I ended up coming back into the song in the last couple of lines left in my section. That was such an embarrassing moment, but I laugh whenever I think about it.
THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU HAVE MET – AND WHO WOULD YOU GIVE GOLD TO MEET?
I didn’t meet her, but I saw Taylor Swift in concert and it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. She is someone I look up to and watching her perform live has always been a dream of mine. I would give gold to meet her in person.
HOBBIES, PASTIMES AND FAVOURITE THINGS?
I do a lot of singing, acting and dancing. When I have time to myself I like watching a good movie and being with my friends.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING SOMEONE HAS SAID OF YOU?
I was approached by someone after they saw Listen in Kloof and I was told that the next time he wants to watch me is when I perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London. (Hopefully, one day… haha).
WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS AND PHOBIAS?
I have a big fear of needles and dentists, and every time I have an appointment I have to get sedated before I go in.
WHAT MOST FRIGHTENS YOU?
When I’m asked to sing or perform, I sometimes fear I won’t live up to their expectations