Over half a century since the original production, the Fugard Theatre’s forthcoming, brand new production of the legendary South African musical, King Kong, is now fully cast and rehearsals commenced on 12 June.
King Kong – The Musical tells the story of heavyweight 1950s boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini whose self-appointed ring name was King Kong, to the wildly exhilarating music of Todd Matshikiza. ‘We are thrilled that this long awaited production of this iconic and first South African musical of King Kong, is a Fugard Theatre production which will showcase the very best of South African talent,’ says Daniel Galloway the Executive Director of the Fugard Theatre. ‘The original production united audiences of all colours, launched careers and put South African talent firmly on the international map. We are excited to be re-creating the world of the “Back of the Moon” shebeen with an all South African cast and superb creative team. While remaining true to the original production our Fugard Theatre King Kong will refresh the musical for the 21st century.’ The Fugard Theatre’s King Kong is directed by Jonathan Munby who directed the Fugard Theatre’s production of A Human Being Died That Night with Noma Dumezweni (the only double Olivier award-winning Southern African actor) amongst many other international productions. Following King Kong, Munby directs Sir Ian McKellen in Shakespeare’s King Lear for the Chichester Festival in the UK. The revised book (with additional lyrics) is by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and playwright William Nicholson (Shadowlands, Gladiator, Les Misérables, Sarafina, Long Walk to Freedom). South African choreographer star and recent Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres recipient Gregory Maqoma will choreograph King Kong to the irresistible original music of the late great South African composer Todd Matshikiza.
The Fugard Theatre’s production sees musical direction by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (West Side Story, Funny Girl, Cabaret) and Sipumzo Lucwaba with arrangements and additional music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder. Set design is by Paul Wills (A Human Being Died that Night, Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet, West End – Wyndham’s Theatre – David Mamet’s American Buffalo); Costume design by Birrie le Roux (West Side Story, Orpheus in Africa, District Six: Kanala); Lighting Design by Tim Mitchell (A Human Being Died That Night; Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear with Antony Sher – Associate Artist RSC/Chichester Festival Theatre) and Sound Design by Mark Malherbe (West Side Story, Funny Girl). The associate director is Mdu Kweyama. Cast in the title role of King Kong is South African star, actor, singer and dancer Andile Gumbi. Gumbi made his Broadway debut as Simba in Disney’s The Lion King and has starred in productions of this musical in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai and South Africa. Gumbi, who was voted by The Sowetan as one of Mzansi’s Top 12 Sexiest Celebs in 2015, is the character Zweli in the Mzansi Magic soap opera isiBaya, which was voted most popular TV soap at the 2017 SAFTA Awards.
Multiple award-winning actress and singer-songwriter Nondumiso Tembe will be recreating the role of Joyce, which propelled Miriam Makeba to international fame in the original production of King Kong. Tembe’s extensive list of credits includes HBO’s Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning True Blood, SABC’s Generations, the military drama SIX on the History Channel and Zulu Wedding opposite Darrin Dewitt Henson. She won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Naledi Theatre Award in 2014 for her portrayal of Susan in David Mamet’s RACE, which toured South Africa and to the Edinburgh Festival. Her debut album Izwi Lami – My Voice received much acclaim including a Metro FM Music Award for Best Music Video. The Fugard Theatre’s King Kong cast includes: Sanda Shandu as Lucky (Orpheus in Africa); Tshamano Sebe as Jack (Athol Fugard’s Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek; Master Harold and the Boys; Noem my Skollie); Ntambo Rapatla as Miriam (Menopause the Musical); Sne Dladla as Pop (District Six: Kanala; Orpheus in Africa; Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek); Lerato Mvelase as Petal (Isibaya; Play Me) and Sabelo Radebe as Caswell (West Side Story; Peter Pan).
Also performing with the ensemble are Joel Zuma (Sophiatown; Kwela Bafana – The Musical); Ben Kgosimore (The Adventures of Oliver Twist; I, Oedipus; Singular Sensation); Athenkozi Mfamela (In The City of Paradise; Bash or Be Bashed); Shalom Zamisa (Voices of Hope; Sarafina); Sibusiso Mxosana (West Side Story; Funny Girl; A Spartacus of Africa); Aphiwe Menziwa (Passage; Inexba Lomphillisi); Namisa Mdlalose (Rent); Siphiwe Nkabinde (Exit/Exist; Music in the Air); Lungelwa Mdekazi (African Angels; Phantom of the Opera); Dolly Louw (Peter Pan; The Boys in the Photograph); Barileng Malibye (Sophiatown; Making Mandela; Dogma; Emotional Creature); Edith Plaatjies (District Six: Kanala; Orpheus in Africa; Blood Brothers); Rushney Ferguson (District Six: Kanala) and Given Mkhize (Sacredspace; In The End is My Beginning).
A live nine-piece band, under the direction of Sipumzo Lucwaba, will accompany the action at every performance. King Kong will run at the Fugard Theatre from 25 July until 2 September 2017, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 20:00 with a 16:00 matinee performance on Saturdays. The Fugard Theatre is situated in the heart of District Six, on the corner of Harrington and Caledon Streets, Cape Town. Tickets range from R130 to R280. King Kong will run at Joburg Theatre’s Mandela Theatre from 12 September until 8 October 2017, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 20:00 with a 16:00 matinee performance on Saturdays and a 16:00 matinee performance on Sundays. Tickets range from R150 to R350. Bookings for both seasons can be made through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. Bookings can also be made at the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554. There is a generous 15% discount available for the Friends of the Fugard members.
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