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High notes, low notes - 2017 in musical numbers

2017-12-17 00:00

Johannesburg - This year the theatre came alive with the sound of music. Gayle Edmunds rounds up the highs and lows from the musicals she watched this year. 


The revival of this iconic South African musical was a highlight on the calendar this year, and it has returned to Cape Town for the holidays.

Here’s how much we loved it: “A glorious tribute to 1950s Sophiatown, where the story is set, the musical revolves around the tragic heavyweight boxing figure Ezekiel ‘King Kong’ Dlamini, who knows how to win – but when life and love thwart him, he crumbles.

“King Kong is the dancing, singing, jazz-playing embodiment of South Africa’s rich heritage.”


With its superb South African cast led by Jonathan Roxmouth and Lynelle Kenned, West Side Story set the standard for the year.

Here’s what we said about it: “Powerful choreography slugs it out with timeless musical numbers in this flawless all-South African revival. There isn’t a step out of time and there is no performance that outshines another. It’s a theatrical event not to be missed.”


The good news about Evita is that if you are in Cape Town for the holidays, you can still catch it. It is on until 7 January.

This local cast – led by British lead Emma Kingston – is, again, incredible. The quality of our musical theatre talent is always astounding.

Here’s how much we loved it: “This production, with a powerhouse South African cast led by the UK’s Emma Kingston, is spectacular and triumphant. The narrator – a cynical Che Guevara – is played with flawless brilliance by local musical theatre favourite Jonathan Roxmouth.

“Experiencing the combined vocal power of Roxmouth and Kingston is something you really don’t want to miss if you are a committed musical theatre fan.”


Alas, perhaps the most disappointing event on the calendar this year was local production Calling Me Home, billed as a story of hope, love and home.

Here’s why: “A new musical that starts with promise splutters into a scrambled mess as it rambles across continents, losing its narrative along the way, and turning lead characters into bit players and jumbling its incoherent storylines.

“The show has an impressive cast of women at its foundation – Lynelle Kenned, Zolani Mahola from Freshlyground and experienced musical theatre lead Samantha Peo, but they are squandered.

“This musical, composed and produced by Alice Gillham and directed by Magdalene Minnaar [who makes her directorial debut] needs a ruthless editor and an experienced director to rebuild the foundation.”

Read more on:    local music  |  musicals  |  theatre

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