New stage works for Durban

Leah Mari, Roland Perold and Amanda Kunene will perform in the one-off Stories 2020 at Durban’s Seabrooke’s Theatre on December 13. Picture by Jacobus van Heerden.

……BY BILLY SUTER…… 

DURBAN’S Seabrooke’s Theatre at Durban High School, in St Thomas Road, Berea, has seen a steady flow of shows in recent weeks – and now two more are in the pipeline.

First up, at 7pm on December 3, 4 and 5, will be It Grows, a musical revue by Simthandile Mtolo. Created and performed by her, it is also a multi-media art exhibition experience that looks at the complexity of life and love, from an honest and intrinsically personal perspective of a black woman working in the arts.

Also headed for the small theatre – at 11.30am on Sunday, December 13 – is a one-off production, Stories 2020, described as a creative musical response to lockdown.

“As the end of a very peculiar year approaches, many of us have endured a rollercoaster of hardships and challenges and have material for phenomenal tales. Stories 2020 is one such creative musical response to lockdown,” says a spokesman. 

Stories 2020 features Roland Perold, Amanda Kunene, Samantha Landers, Blessing Xaba, Anthony Downing and Leah Mari on vocals, with fellow singer Jaco Griessel on keyboards. 

This musical collection of stories takes the form of 12 songs from seven South African rising composers who have created new material for this collaborative project.

Durban is going to be host to the very first showcase of this original material. Perold, Downing, Griessel and Mari were joined by Marcel Meyer, Wessel Odendaal and Luca Hart in composing for the showcase. 

 “Pre Covid-19 we had the pleasure of large-scale, well-resourced musicals that came our way by means of Broadway and The West End after years of research and development. At its core, though, is still the old-age tradition of storytelling,” says Perold.

Simthandile Mtolo. who has created and will perform It Grows, a musical revue.

 “Our Stories series creates a platform for local writers to showcase works at the beginning of the writing process; before helicopters (Miss Saigon) or chandeliers (Phantom) blew budgets out the water. We invite the audience to come along for the ride and witness exciting new material by the country’s leading musical theatre creative,

 “Stories 2020 is a collective of dramaturgs, composers and lyricists who started a songwriting circle during South Africa’s hard lockdown. On a regular basis the group met over Zoom presenting new songs, works in development, considered aspects of the craft and challenges relating to new writing; all with the goal of hosting a song writing showcase in December of 2020.

“We invite all those who crave theatre to come and enjoy this very first offering. You may be witness to the birth of South Africa’s next big spectacular musical, or an intimate chamber work that pulls dearly on the collective heart strings. 

The event will be staged with live piano accompaniment in a one-act, 70 minute format. Tickets cost R50 and can be booked by sending a Whatsapp to Sophie Thompson at 083 609 8729.


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