BILLY SUTER reports on the most-welcome flow of new stage shows headed for Durban before year-end. He also has a cracker of a competition today – up for grabs are four tickets to Classical Comedy, four tickets to The Good News Cabaret and four tickets to The King of Broken Things. See competition details at the end of this post for a chance to win one of these sets of tickets!
NOTE: Keep an eye on SoSuterBill.com in coming days for the chance to win four tickets to Jack and the Beanstalk and 10 tickets to the Barnyard’s new show, Nineties vs Noughties.
AFTER such a long artistic drought, Durban is poised for a flood of new theatre offerings before and during the festive season, not least the return of KickstArt’s much-missed annual pantomime at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
Also exciting news is the introduction of a new theatre space in Durban North – The raked, 100-seater Bridge Theatre at Northlands Primary School, 20 Gleneagles Drive – which will present Michael Taylor-Broderick’s excellent The King of Broken Things from November 4.
KickstArt’s 2022 Durban panto, designed by Greg King and written and directed by Steven Stead, is a revival of the popular Jack and the Beanstalk, last staged in 2013. It will run from December 8 to January 15 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
Lit by Tina le Roux, the production stars exciting newcomer William Young as hero Jack, with golden-voiced Roshanda Lewis as his love interest, Princess Jill. Blessing Xaba steps into the dame’s high heels to play Jack’s long suffering mother, Flora Flatbroke, while panto favourites Bryan Hiles and Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson stars as the inept robbers, Cecil and Claude.
The forces of good and evil are represented by Shelley McLean as the ditzy good fairy, Glissanda Goldenvox, and Liesl Coppin as the deliciously nasty Lady Beastly. Lyle Buxton once again gets up on his stilts to play The Giant.
Tickets cost between R130 and R250, and there is an Early Bird Special: book before October 30 and you will get 10% off. Book at Computicket.
Scheduled for a season from November 4 to 12 at the new Durban North theatre, The King of Broken Things is a must-see; a whimsical, profound and poignant one-hander starring Cara Roberts as a troubled, busy boy reflecting on various topics.
The play gently deals with many issues facing society today: bullying, prejudice, gratuitous waste, absent fathers, and the futility and consequences of war.
The quaint Bridge Theatre has been earmarked to be developed into a professional venue for hire – particularly for spoken-word theatre, live original music, cabarets, recitals and comedy. The King of Broken Things will mark the “soft” launch of the venue, which will be further upgraded and enhanced in coming months.
The idea is for The Bridge to build a theatre-going audience, particularly in the Durban North area, but also to provide an opportunity for school pupils to get first-hand experience of live arts, by becoming involved in productions staged there.
The King of Broken Things recently returned from The Golden Dolphin International Puppet Festival – which is held every three years in Bulgaria to popularise the achievement of Bulgarian puppet art and to showcase puppet shows from around the globe. The King of Broken Things was the only South African production invited to the festival.
The show is a previous winner of a Gold Ovation Award at the SA National Arts Festival and now a winner of three international awards at the Golden Dolphin International Puppet Festival (for Best Actress, Best Script and Best Director).
The King of Broken Things is produced by Theatresmiths, founded by Michael Taylor-Broderick.
Tickets cost R130 (R110 concessions) and booking is via Webtickets. Performances are at 7pm on November 4, 10 and 11, and 2.30pm on November 5, 6 and 12.
Before the KickstArt panto opens, the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre will turn the spotlight on Classical Comedy, an outrageous musical comedy collaboration between Macbob Productions and the Durban City Orchestra.
Scheduled to run from November 25 until December 4, this show is directed by Darren King and teams comedy couple Aaron McIlroy and Lisa Bobbert, boldly going where no right-minded comedian should ever venture – the sacred space of The Orchestra.
They are said to migrate from Bach to Beethoven to bedlam in a musical celebration fit for the whole family, guaranteed to bring a chuckle to Tchaikovsky, a roar to Radetsky and a burp to Brahms!
“For ages we have wanted to have fun with orchestra music. There are just so many delicious opportunities for great gags and brilliant music. It is something which we have never done before, and something which is seldom done anywhere because it is a huge undertaking involving so many people! We are so incredibly chuffed that the DCO is game to go on this crazy, unchartered adventure with us. We are having the most fun time,” said Lisa Bobbert.
The Durban City Orchestra (DCO) is one of the longest running orchestras in the country. Independent of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, it started as the Durban Philharmonic Orchestra and was later known as Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra before it became DCO.
It is made up of independent professionals, active and retired music teachers, university music students and part-time musicians who participate voluntarily for the love of music and of performing together. Currently the orchestra has a complement of 30 active members who get together weekly.
The orchestra includes two accomplished professional musicians in Charl van der Merwe as Resident Conductor and Jitske Brien as Concert Master. Van der Merwe is principle bassoonist at the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra where Brien assists periodically as a violinist.
Tickets cost R200 (R180 for pensioners and students) and performances are Thursdays to Saturdays at 7pm, with additional 3pm Saturday performances. Sunday performances are at 3pm only. Booking is at Computicket.
Also headed for the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre is Isidlamlilo (The Fire Eater), an acclaimed new play written and directed by Neil Coppen. It is one-hander starring Mpume Mthombeni.
Empatheatre in association with the NAC and The National Arts Festival presents this work from November 4 to 9.
Isidlamlilo has set design by Greg King, lighting by Tina le Roux and sound-design by Tristan Horton.
The play premiered on the main programme at the 2022 National Arts Festival to rave reviews and standing ovations with critic Steve Kretzeman writing: “Woven together from true stories and testimonials gathered by the Empatheatre company, with a near flawless presentation and delivery, Isidlamlilo expands our horizons so often cramped by fears real and imagined, and imparts some of the courage the dispossessed have to daily gather to continue to live. This is fantastic theatre.”
Over the course of 80 minutes, Mthombeni, through frank, comic and captivating storytelling, relays the death-defying life story of Zenzile Maseko.
Maseko, a sixty-something Zulu grandmother, rents a cramped room in a Durban women’s hostel, and is haunted by her past working as an IFP assassin (fire-eater) in the build-up to the 1994 elections.
When the Home Affairs mistakenly declare her dead and are unable to reverse the error on their system, Zenzile finds herself cast into the middle of a Kafkaesque nightmare, driven to desperate measures to prove she is still alive and made, in the process, to reawaken parts of her identity and past that she has spent a majority of her adult life trying to suppress.
Isidlamlilo will be performed at 7pm on November 4, 5 and 8, and at 2.30pm on November 6 … and 11am on November 9 (for schools/community Theatre groups and open to public).
Tickets cost R130 with a 10% discount for block bookings of 10 or more. A student and pensioner discount price of R110 is applicable on presentation of a valid card. Book at Computicket. For schools and community theatre bookings contact Margie at 083 251 9412.
Also worth noting is that a series of music concerts has been scheduled for Sunday afternoons in November at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre, 42 Cunningham Road, off Bartle Road in Umbilo. These are supported by Concerts SA through funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Samro. All concerts will start at 2pm and tickets cost R100.
The season will launch at 2pm on November 6 with Hawema, a unique Durban quartet offering a mix of local hip hop, house, rock ’n’ roll, punk and jazz. Then, on November 13, the stage will feature Sheila Da Bluenot, a singer, composer, actress and dancer who started out, in 1966, as a gospel singer.
On November 20, The Durban band Milkyway Galaxy will perform, followed by Rorke and Red Robyn on November 27.
For more details about these concerts, and to book, call Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.
Two must-sees at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo over the festive season are The Good News Cabaret, teaming Godfrey Johnson and Roland Perold, and Julie Andrews Uncut, starring Alison Hillstead.
In The Good News Cabaret, Johnson and Perold reunite around the piano to show their skills as cabaret’s most consummate, interesting, accomplished and quirky performers. Both sing and play piano simultaneously.
They will bring their uncompromising talents and unique musical arrangements to the Durban stage, Wednesdays to Sundays, from December 15 to 31, at 7pm nightly and at 2pm on Sundays.
The Good News Cabaret features music and comedy material from across the globe – songs that are funny and witty, or strange and unusual.
Perold, who is also producing, explains: “We live in a social-media-crazy world where everyone seems to be ‘doing fab’, but if you scratch below the surface, you realise that it’s another story. ‘Good News!’ on the surface, yes, but boy-oh-boy one level down and it’s a quagmire.”
Johnson continues: “We acknowledge this. And by seeing the humour in the situation we can all start to heal. Music is such a great tool to facilitate this. It has the ability to find the smiles, irrespective of the situation.”
Their song-list includes an array of cutting-edge new material as well as standards by composers such as Tim Minchin, Noël Coward, Fats Waller, Randy Newman and others.
Johnson and Perold have managed to extract the bittersweet sentiment that is present in so many works that form part of these composers’ discographies. Both Johnson and Perold are also established songwriters, with Perold winning the Writers’ Guild of South Africa’s MUSE Award for his musical, The Pitch.
The audience can also look forward to original songs, Johnson explains: “With the current state of the world there is so much to talk about, we can’t resist!”
This show had a very short run in Cape Town at the now-defunct Alexander Bar. This marks the first time it will be staged in Durban.
Tickets cost R180 each, with a two-for-one discount offered for the first five pairs of tickets sold for each performance via Computicket.
Take along a food picnic basket or buy a light meal at the venue, but note that all drinks must be bought at the theatre pub.
Julie Andrews Uncut, which runs for an hour, will be at the Rhumbelow Theatre at 7pm on Friday, December 9; 2pm and 7pm on Saturday, December 10; and 2pm and 5pm on Sunday, December 11.
Written and directed by Amanda Bothma, and featuring Nathan Johannisen as pianist and musical director, this celebrated show comes to Durban from the Grahamstown Arts Festival and the recent Kwela Kapela Cabaret Festival at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.
Book for all Rhumbelow shows at Computicket or phone theatre manager Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.
Meanwhile, a reminder that Noughties vs Nineties, a colourful showband salute at Durban’s Barnyard Theatre at Suncoast Casino, is still packing them in and worth seeing. It runs until the end of December and one can book by calling the theatre at (031) 940 0500.
Also note that Paul Slabolepszy’s latest stage success, Fordsburg’s Finest, is apparently scheduled for a Durban run, at the Playhouse early in December, following Johannesburg and Cape Town seasons. Dates and further details have still to be announced.
Fordburg’s Finest, a fine, humour-laced play about reconciliation, centres on a black woman who, decades after leaving South Africa with her family to settle in America, returns to her old family home to discover it is now a used-car sales yard.The play was first staged in 1998.
The new production teams Slabolepszy and Chi Mhende under the direction of Bobby Heaney, and features a terrific set by Durban’s Greg King.
WIN ONE OF FOUR SETS OF SHOW TICKETS!
How would you like to be a winner of four tickets to one of the shows headed for Durban soon? We have the following to give away in a pot-luck competition draw, so list your order of preference and hold thumbs: Please note that the tickets may not be exchanged for another performance.
**** 4 tickets for The King of Broken Things (Bridge Theatre at Northlands Primary School, 7pm performance on Wednesday, November 2)
**** 4 tickets for Classical Comedy (Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, 7pm performance on Friday, November 25)
**** 4 tickets for The Good News Cabaret (Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo, 7pm performance on Thursday, December 15)
To stand the chance of winning show tickets, you simply have to be a follower of the SoSuterBill site to win. At no cost.
If you are not already a follower, simply leave your email address in the space provided towards the end of the cover page of this site, sosuterbill.com (access the cover page by clicking ‘Latest Posts’ on the menu bar).
You will then be a follower, and receive email notification whenever I file a new story.
Once you have subscribed (there is no cost), send your NAME and PHONE NUMBER via email (NOT THIS SITE’S CONTACT FORM) to firstname.lastname@example.org and place the words “4-TICKET GIVEAWAY” in the subject field. State which of the three shows you would most like to win tickets to, but note that there is no guarantee.
Note that the competition closes at 6pm on Saturday, October 29, and the three winners will be contacted soon after. Winner names will be posted in this spot thereafter. (The winners are Frances Olivier (Classical Comedy), Nikki Grant (The Good News Cabaret) and Susan McIlroy (The King of Broken Things).
Also note that tickets may not be exchanged for another performance and that the prize is for tickets only (not travel and/or accommodation should this prove necessary).
NOTE: PLEASE READ ENTRY DETAILS CAREFULLY AS SOME PEOPLE ARE ENTERING COMPETITIONS INCORRECTLY.
ALSO NOTE THAT ONLY ONE ENTRY PER SUBSCRIBER WILL BE CONSIDERED.
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Aaron and Lisa my hereos