BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN actress Jessica Sole, now based in Cape Town, and Pietermaritzburg dancer-singer-actor Jarryd Nurden, are among the cast of a new South African stage version of The Rocky Horror Show, described as “fresh, subversive and essential”.
Presented by Pieter Toerien and Howard Panter, the production is headed for Cape Town over the festive season and Johannesburg early in 2020.
The classic, colourful, sci-fi musical nodding to B-grade movies and telling of the adventures of a sweet transvestite, will be staged at Cape Town’s Artscape theatre from December 6 to January 12. It will then be performed at the Teatro at Montecasino, Johannesburg, from January 17 to March 1, followed by a global tour.
The production will offer a twist in a female narrator, to be played by Kate Normington, who recently played the witch in Steven Stead’s touring production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, which also featured Jessica Sole as The Baker’s Wife.
Craig Urbani – currently touring in the South African production of Chicago, in which he portrays conniving lawyer Bill Flynn – has been cast as the transvestite from Transylvania, Frank N Furter.
Others in the cast include Anthony Downing, Marlee van der Merwe, Stefania du Toit, Zak Hendrikz, Usisipho Nteyi, Robin Timm and Sean Louw. The musical’s director is Christopher Luscombe.
The Rocky Horror Show first opened in London in June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. It has become the world’s favourite rock ’n’ roll musical, having been performed in more than 30 countries and translated into some 20 languages.
The new production, for which booking is now open at Computicket, features such hits as Sweet Transvestite, Science Fiction/Double Feature, Dammit Janet, Whatever Happened to Saturday Night and The Time-Warp.
Sticking with Johannesburg, note that an eight-member cast, all of whom play musical instruments, are saluting the music and memories of Simon and Garfunkel in a new show titled Here’s To You. It runs from July 5 to 28 at The Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino.
Featuring some 20 Simon and Garfunkel hits, the show is under the musical direction of Wessel Odendaal. It has a cast headed by Josh Ansley (2017 runner-up of The Voice South Africa) on vocals and on guitar.
Also starring are Ashleigh Butcher on banjo/guitar/ukelele, Daniel Geddes on keyboards, Hanna So on piano/violin/cello, Justin Swartz on guitar/vocal Percussion and Phindile Dube on percussion. Talented vocalist Sanli Jooste, who starred as Joanna in the Durban production of KickstArt’s Sweeney Todd, appears on cello.
Directed by Timothy le Roux, with lighting design by Oliver Hauser and sets by Nadine Minnaar, the show is said to feature fresh, yet faithful, reinterpretations of Simon and Garfunkel`s evergreen songs – among them Bridge Over Trouble Water, Cecilia and Mrs Robinson.
The show is produced by VR Theatrical, headed by Jaco van Rensburg, who directed the highly praised Young Performers Project original musical, Curtain Up!, which ends its season at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre tomorrow (June 2). VR Theatrical’s recent stage successes include Avenue Q, Rock of Ages and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Performances of Here’s To You are scheduled for 8pm from Wednesdays to Saturdays, as well as 4pm on Saturdays and 3pm on Sundays. Tickets are available, from R100 to R350, at Computicket.
Still with Pieter Toerien, note that he will be producing Family Secrets, a new stage comedy by Enrico Luttmann, that runs from June 14 to 30 at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino. It will star Dorothy Ann Gould and Sven Ruygrok, the Spud actor who recently appeared in a fine touring production of Peter Schaffer’s harrowing drama, Equus.
Family Secrets will also be staged at the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town, from July 3 to 13.
“It has been quite some time since there has been a production of a contemporary Italian play in South Africa. University drama courses still occasionally stage the odd Luigi Pirandello drama but apart from the Neapolitan family sagas by Eduardo di Fillipo, we’re a little out of touch with the vibrant theatre scene of Italy, particularly Rome,” says a spokesman for the production.
“Enrico Luttmann has become a mainstay of the Teatro Vittoria and Teatro de’Servi in Rome with his bittersweet comedies of present-day Italian life. In addition, his work has been presented all over Europe and enthusiastically received, and the first productions of his plays in English are scheduled for both the UK and the United States.”
Pieter Toerien has scooped the English language premiere of Family Secrets for South Africa, featuring direction by Alan Swerdlow and set design by Kosie Smit.
The tale has feisty, combative Grazia (Dorothy Ann Gould) living in an Italian seaside town, passing her days with her obsessive dedication to never-ending soap operas.
Her son, Adamo (Sven Ruygrok), has moved to Rome where he writes soap operas for television and plays for the stage. His recollections of their spikey mother-son relationship plays out in his mind until he achieves an understanding of what “family” truly means as he dodges the skeletons in the cupboard.
Described a sometimes hilariously witty, sometimes deeply moving, Family Secrets is said to be as tasty and comforting as a big bowl of pasta, as the protagonists learn to speak the universal language of ‘family’.
Performances are at 8pm from Wednesdays to Fridays, at 4pm and 8pm on Saturdays and at 3pm on Sundays, with a special 3pm matinee performance on Monday, June 17 June.
Tickets are R240, R200, R150 and R100, R150, R200 and R240 at Computicket or the theatre box-office (phone (011) 511 1818).
A current crowd-pleaser in Johannesburg is the latest solo show by seasoned funnyman Marc Lottering, Not a Musical, which sees him at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre after a maiden trip to Thailand.
What happens in Phuket, does not stay in Phuket in this show, which has Lottering telling new stories –from frantic snorkelling to fashionable depression.
Not a Musical runs for 80 minutes without an interval. It is running until June 9, at 8pm from Wednesday to Friday, 5pm and 8pm on Saturday, and 2.30pmn on Sunday. Tickets range in price from, R100 to R240. Book at Computicket.