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Monday, October 24, 2016


(Sharon, Nondumiso, John, Ali & Christina)

A spectacular variety show of considerable entertainment value. (Review by Keith Millar)

To start with, let me add a couple of qualifications to the review I am about to write.

Firstly, my favourite performer in the whole world is in the show. My beautiful daughter Robyn. So, if you detect a bit of bias, I apologise in advance.

Secondly, I am unashamedly a huge fan of amateur theatre. Staged correctly, it can play an important role in unearthing and nurturing new talent, developing community spirit and offering a platform for talented local performers to express their creativity.

So if you detect bias in this regard, I offer no apologies.

As far as doing it correctly is concerned, Sharon Watters and her entire Spot Light Production team have hit the nail on the head and have created a spectacular variety show of considerable entertainment value.

The Ring 2 can be seen at the Westville Civic Centre Hall and is presented in the popular super theatre format.

As one can surmise by the title, it is set in a circus environment and features everything from daring aerial acts, graceful acrobatics and puzzling illusions, to amusing comedy acts and plenty of dazzling song and dance.

The story that links all the acts together is about Abbey (charmingly and adeptly performed by Robyn Norris), a young circus performer who, against her mother’s wishes, is determined to track down the father she has never met.

The production is a sequel to Spot Light Production’s previous circus extravaganza entitled The Ring. Not having seen this, I was concerned about being able to follow the plot, but there is an amiable, if rather melancholic, traditional white-faced clown, who acts as a narrator and keeps the story moving along nicely.

The action was played out against a glittering and colourful set with some imaginative lighting adding to the glamour. On opening night, there were a few small problems with the sound, but I am sure these will be sorted out in no time.

Highlights of the show include several very innovative ensemble song and dance numbers. The choreographer is Caeley van Doorn who certainly got the most out of her alluring dance troupe (which seems to include everyone in cast at one point or other). She is also and engaging and confident actress and made the most of her role as one of the Ring Masters.

Hard working director, Sharon Watters, showed off her circus skills on a number of occasions but most notably, dressed in shocking pink, in a net aerial act where she performs to a dramatic rendition of the Sounds of Silence, sung by Adam Fanner. 

Champion Gymnast Lauren Williams charms and astounds the audience with her graceful and agile dance and gymnastics. She is a superstar who lights up the stage with her personality. She is joined in an aerial hoop act and acrobatic dance by the multi-talented Ali Dawson. Dawson also plays Abbey’s mother Emma and shows considerable acting skill while she sings like an angel.

Talking of multi talent - the extraordinary John Bell seems to be able to do every circus act there is. He juggles, does acrobatics, he is the strong man and he does a very funny comedy act on the balance bean while wearing a tutu. Then to top it all, he joins Caeley van Doorn in a beautiful balletic pas de deux to a mash-up of Adele’s Hello and Justin Beiber’s Sorry, beautifully sung by 12 year-old Christina Burrows and Robz Millar.

As amateur theatre, not all elements of the production are as strong as others, and not all the performers are equally talented. However, there are more than enough moments to make this a most enjoyable and entertaining show.

The cast and crew of this production worked extremely hard to put together this show and their passion and enjoyment while on stage is palpable. They deserve all the support they can get, both from their local community, and from further afield.

The Ring 2 runs until October 29 at the Westville Civic Centre with evening performances at 20h00 and matinee on October 29. Tickets R100 per person (half price for pensioners and children for the three matinĂ©es and on October 25). Bookings through Sharon on 082 997 0709 or e-mail – Keith Millar

Friday, October 21, 2016


(Christopher Duigan. Photo by Val Adamson)

Steinway Pianist Christopher Duigan plays a programme of works by Ludwig van Beethoven on three forthcoming dates: October 27 in Kloof and in Pietermaritzburg on October 28 at Music Revival in Athlone and on October 30 at the Tatham Art Gallery.

He will play three sonatas from the canon of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas that represent each of these periods: the lighthearted Sonata in F Op 10 No 2, the popular Moonlight Sonata Op 27 no 2 and the Sonata in E Op 109.

Music by German romantic composers, who were highly influenced by Beethoven's legacy, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, complete the programme.

Beethoven’s musical output is often conveniently divided into three periods. In the first he uses the language of Viennese classicism established by earlier composers, above all Haydn and Mozart, with the emphasis on clarity, restraint, and balance.

In the second period he writes with a bolder, more personal tone, often with very powerful surges toward moods of triumph, tragedy and transformation.

And, in the third period, the earlier urgency gives way to moods that have been described by words such as ‘interior’, ‘contemplative’ and ‘visionary’.

The Kloof concert takes place on October 27 at 19h30 at St Agnes Church in Kloof. Tickets R100 booked through the St Agnes church office on 031 764 2037.

The concert taking place at Music Revival will be on October 28 at 35 Montgomery Drive, Athlone in Pietermaritzburg. Tickets R200 includes a light meal from 18h30. Dinner guests should bring their own wine. For those who wish to attend the concert only the ticket is R120 (including refreshments) with music starting at approximately 19h40.There is secure parking. Booking is essential on email: or MUSIC REVIVAL 083 417 4473 (sms) or WhatsApp

The concert at the Tatham Art Gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg, will be held on October 30 at 11h30. Tickets R80. Booking is preferred via email at or by SMS at 083 417 4473 or on Whatsapp. There is secure parking available next to the gallery and the Cafe Tatham will be open from 10 h00 and for lunch afterwards. 


 With only three months to wrap up another year of record-breaking entertainment experiences, Mabala Noise together with Durban’s Kgolo Da Guru and event specialists Flipside Productions, have announced The Grand Finale featuring Nasty C – the hiphop celebration set to redefine of the biggest night of the year in Durban.

Keeping it 100% local, various artists from the Mabala Noise stable will perform exclusively at The Grand Finale on New Year’s Eve, December 31, at the Kings Park Stadium. The super talented Juice Back hitmaker Nasty C will headline alongside over 20 of SA’s finest live hiphop acts who will be announced nearer the time.

Limited to only 10,000 party goers, booking is through Computicket and will be open to the young at heart over the age of 18 only.

The Grand Finale takes place on December 31 from 17h00 to 02h00 at Kings Park Stadium, Durban. It is powered and supported by media partners Gagasi FM and mtvBASE.


The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) will revisit the epicentre of 1940’s and 50’s South African jazz and blues culture at their 19th annual ACT Awards.

The ACT Awards, which will be held tonight (October 21) at Sun International’s The Maslow Hotel in Sandton will bestow Lifetime Achievement Awards on six of the country’s arts and culture stalwarts, while also naming five rising stars 2016’s ImpACT Award winners.

“We believe ‘remembering Sophiatown’ is a fitting backdrop to our celebration given the current winds of change blowing through our streets and moving our communities,” says Anastasia Pather, the Awards project manager.

The evening will blend the past and the present with a strong female force. Live performances by the grande dame of jazz, Sibongile Khumalo will be juxtaposed with the sharp wit of the night’s hosts, all female satirical group, Thenx.

While Khumalo’s unmistakable voice will help transport guests back to Msanzi’s golden era of creative consciousness, wry humour courtesy of Thenx will offer clever commentary on the current state of the country.

“Hosting the Awards is an honour and we are very excited,” say the ladies from Thenx. “We think the line-up is very fitting of the theme, and it’s going to be interesting to experience the mix between us as young artists and the legendary mama Sibongile Khumalo.”

This year, the ImpACT Awards will honour young creatives in five categories; Visual Art, Music, Theatre, Dance and Design. All 15 finalists have achieved remarkable things in the first five years of their careers, and were brought forward by a public nomination platform. The judges, Beneficiary Relations Manager for the National Lotteries Commission, Sershan Naidoo; ACT chairperson, Melissa Goba; Dance Umbrella Director, Georgina Thomson; actress, playwright and voice coach, Motshabi Tyelele; and award-winning pianist and educator, Andre Petersen, certainly have an arduous task ahead of them.

ACT’s sojourn back to Sophiatown will also recognise six Lifetime Achievement Award winners, all cultural crusaders in their own right. There will be nods made in the following categories; Visual Art, Theatre, Dance, Music, Literature and Arts Advocacy. “We look forward to celebrating the winners’ lifelong contributions to our heritage,” says Pather. “Each of them have physically affected South Africa’s future and can certainly be heralded as icons of our time.”

To date, the Arts & Culture Trust has recognised over 150 individuals and organisations for their significant contribution to art, culture and heritage in South Africa through their Awards. And this year, ACT looks forward to adding more names to this impressive list.

The 19th annual ACT Awards is hosted by Sun International in association with the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and is supported by the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), Media24 Books, the Nedbank Arts Affinity, JTI, Creative Feel Magazine, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) and the Distell Foundation.

For more information about the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) visit and use the hashtag #ACTAwards on all social media channels.


(Members of The Durban Chamber Choir, Pic by Val Adamson)

The Durban Chamber Choir continues its 2016 series of concerts with a programme intriguingly entitled The Great Mystery. Performed under the baton of DCC’s director, Dr Christopher Cockburn, this event, featuring choral music from the 16th and 21st centuries, can be heard in Durban at St Thomas’s Church in Musgrave on October 30.

The programme will be reprised at the Hayfields Lutheran Church in Pietermaritzburg on November 6.

Says Cockburn: “Many of the great choral composers of the 16th-century Renaissance produced settings of the Latin text “O magnum mysterium” which have remained amongst their best-loved works. In recent years, the same words (and the earlier musical settings of them) have been a source of inspiration for a number of contemporary composers.

In its forthcoming concerts, the Durban Chamber Choir sings five of the Renaissance settings and four of the contemporary settings, providing listeners with a fascinating comparison of different composers’ responses to the same text.

“The words are associated with the season of Christmas, and refer to the ‘great mystery’ that animals should be able to see God lying in a manger. Most of the composers seem to have taken their cue from the word ‘mysterium’ and have created music that is by turns otherworldly and intensely expressive. The predominant mood is one of mystical contemplation, and will offer listeners an opportunity to step out of the busyness of the everyday world into a quieter dimension, but several of the composers also take advantage of the ‘Alleluia’ that appears at the end of the text to create contrasting sections in a lively and energetic style,” adds Cockburn.

“The earliest setting is by the Spaniard Cristobal Morales, who lived from 1500 to 1553. The most recent setting was composed in 2012 by the Norwegian Ola Gjeilo, whose music made a deep impression on many of the audience who heard it at the Chamber Choir’s previous concert in May. His setting of O magnum mysterium is titled Serenity and adds a solo cello to a rich choral texture that at times divides into as many as twelve different voice parts. The Renaissance settings also feature varied arrangements of the voices, from four parts (Morales and Victoria) to six (Palestrina) and eight (Gallus and Gabrieli).”

This is a programme of remarkable music rarely heard in live performance in this country, and in fact some of these pieces will be performed here for the first time. In addition to the choral items, there will be short interludes of music for solo cello played by Nigel Fish and music for organ played by the conductor, Christopher Cockburn.

The Great Mystery can be heard in Durban at St Thomas’s Church in Musgrave on October 30 at 15h00. The next performance takes place at the Hayfields Lutheran Church in Pietermaritzburg on November 6 at 15h00. Tickets R70 (R40 students and pensioners) at the door. School choir groups may attend for free, by prior arrangement. Contact