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'Cabaret And Beyond' festival recognises excellence in new musical theatre

Amanda Kunene, Lyle Buxton, and Sam Landers, Tshepo Kcokoane. Picture: Supplied

Amanda Kunene, Lyle Buxton, and Sam Landers, Tshepo Kcokoane. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 15, 2021


Aspiring musical theatre writers will get an opportunity to present some of their original works at the inaugural “Cabaret and Beyond” (CAB) festival.

The event is taking place at Seabrooke’s Theatre from Thursday, October 14.

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Curated by Roland Perold, the CAB festival seeks to showcase excellence in new music theatre writing while providing mentorship and development programmes for future theatre-makers.

“Apart from a very small number of local musical theatre success stories like ’Sarafina’, ’King Kong’, the musicals of David Kramer and the ’Aunty Merle’ series from Marc Lottering; there is no development, training or mentoring available for musical theatre writers in South Africa,” explains Perold.

He adds: “This is a travesty as we have wonderful performers and directors, as well as a rich tapestry of source material, but no outlet that combines dramaturgy and music in a sustainable way.

“The Cabaret and Beyond Festival is a response to this whereby we bring aspiring and established writers together to share knowledge and works in development for feedback from their peers leading up to a live screening of those works.”

Directed by Durban-based theatre practitioner Steven Stead, who is no stranger to development projects, he is thrilled about his nurturing role.

"As a director, especially of musical theatre, it is very rare to get to work on material that is entirely new and original. There is so much diversity of style in this programme, such a range of expression. And some really fabulous music,“ offers Stead.

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Echoing Stead’s sentiments, Dr Ismail Mahomed, the Director of UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) says, “By adding this new festival to our already successful bouquet of festivals we want to play a role in rekindling a cultural economy that has been seriously affected by the national lockdowns.

“Musical theatre straddles easily between entertainment and social commentary. It can be both playful and relevant.”

Those taking part hail from all corners of the country including Durban, Joburg, Cape Town and Gqeberha.

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“A small cast of talented performers – Amanda Kunene, Sam Landers, Lyle Buxton and Tshepo Ncokoane – are hard at work in rehearsals led by popular director Steven Stead and musical director Wessel Odendaal.

“Each song stands on its own and tells a unique story from the writers’ perspective who have written on many topics and themes. There are some really poignant moments and some laugh out loud novelty songs,” says Perold.

He adds: “Patrons will be treated to an intimate performance of witty and touching new songs by a collection of South Africa’s leading musical theatre writers.

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“With a brilliant cast which captures every nuance of these new works, the showcase will offer a much-needed reprieve from the live performance deprivation we’ve all suffered for the past 18 months.

“From the showcase material, a jury will also select two writers that show exceptional promise for having their works developed further. These writers will then receive grants and assistance from the CCA, while being mentored by a professional dramaturgy.”

The line-up includes a wide range of musical performances fused with political satire pieces, and stand-alone comedy numbers, “a great collection that will have the audience leaving uplifted and entertained”.

The “Cabaret and Beyond” festival takes place at Seabrooke’s Theatre in Durban from Thursday, October 15, till Sunday, October 24. Tickets are available from Webtickets for R100 each..