Fans of musical theatre can anticipate the rare opportunity to attend opening performances of a large-scale new musical in Cape Town.
Tiger Bay the Musical, a rousing epic set in Cardiff’s bustling multi-racial docklands at the turn of the last century, will have a short run at Artscape from 20 to 27 May before transferring to the UK in late 2017. Tiger Bay the Musical continues the twelve-year partnership between the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) and Cape Town Opera (CTO), combining local talent with an outstanding international creative team. Leading the cast in the role of John Stuart is Broadway musical star, John Owen-Jones. Acclaimed as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, Owen-Jones recently appeared as Valjean on the 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Misérables. Joining the talented cast is an ensemble of 15 children, selected from diverse communities throughout the Western Cape, who have trained for months to perform as the Water Boys. Consummate musician, composer and performer Daf James has written a magnificent score that will be performed by a 20-piece orchestra. Tiger Bay the Musical’s intensely modern, unique sound is rich in Celtic undertones. Prize-winning local author Michael Williams wrote the book and lyrics for Tiger Bay the Musical. After uncovering fascinating facts about Tiger Bay’s cosmopolitan community, Williams, whose grandfather and mother hail from Cardiff, pitched the idea for a musical to the WMC, which was enthusiastic and commissioned him to write Tiger Bay the Musical.
The lovable characters of Tiger Bay the Musical will steal your heart: from the feisty Rowena Pryddy, a suffragette shopgirl who questions sacrificing her freedom for love, to the streetwise Water Boys and the Marquess of Bute, the worlds’ richest man and a tortured soul with a penchant for spiritualism. The story is set in motion when Themba, a Zulu man who tragically lost his wife and son during the Boer War, arrives in Tiger Bay. He finds work as a Donkeyman, hauling coal along the railway tracks, and meets Ianto, an orphan who has to live by her wits. Tiger Bay the Musical explores the universal themes of love and redemption. Some of the issues it examines, such as economic inequality and migrant labour, are especially pertinent in contemporary South Africa. As Williams writes: ‘Tiger Bay the Musical is about how we can live and work better together by doing the little things right.’ Staging a large-scale musical is a massive undertaking and tasked to a highly accomplished creative team, led by acclaimed British director Melly Still, and co-director Max Barton, a rising star in British contemporary theatre. Still and Barton say: ‘Expect a gritty spectacular and a real thriller that draws on the lives and losses of the people from Tiger Bay, with a healthy dose of romance thrown in.’