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Friday, July 3, 2009


(Pic: Sam Pennington and Bandile Hlophe)

Rainbow Sponsors Young Performers in the adventures of Huckleberry Finn,

On July 3, the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre stage will come alive with an enthusiastic group of young performers, sponsored by Rainbow, who will bring to life Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Based on Mark Twain’s 1884 novel, the musical will showcase the talent of several youngsters who are part of Rainbow’s initiative to empower and groom the youth for the future of South African art.

Warren Farrer, Rainbow’s Corporate Communication’s Manager says: “This project aims to unleash the potential of local youth through theatre and Rainbow is proud to be part of such a venture. Hopefully over the next few years, our initiative will attract other business partners to help grow the project nationally, attracting more youth who can experience this wonderful opportunity.”

Rainbow Young Performers Project identifies high school learners who have a passion for drama and theatre and possess strong leadership skills and provides a platform for them to showcase their talents.

The final cast for this year’s production was chosen after a stringent auditioning process, earlier this year and rehearsals for the musical began in mid April.

“This project has been running for nine years and gives youth who have talent, an opportunity to work in a professional theatre environment under the guidance of professional directors, vocal directors and choreographers. This is the first year that Rainbow has sponsored the project,” said Farrer.

Thobeka Mkhwanazi, a grade nine pupil at Ridgepark Secondary is a Rainbow Young Performer who will feature in the Big River said, “After auditioning, I was given a part as a slave in the musical. This opportunity has changed me as a person. I am so glad to have the chance of being in front of an audience. It’s exciting to learn about being a performer but also tough.”

In addition to the young performers, Bandile Hlophe will play Jim in the musical. Hlophe is the young professional who will feature in this year’s performance, together with John Didlick. Both young professionals featured as young performers in past productions and are ecstatic about being part of this year’s production.

Daisy Spencer is the choreographer of the show and adds a wealth of experience to the project. Over the past two years she featured in a number of popular shows and directed Sophiatown in 2008. Spencer was also the young performer’s coordinator and choreographer for last year’s production School of Rock SA.

Themi Venturas, who is the producer of this year’s performance, says: “We select between 30 and 35 of the over 500 children who audition to be part of our annual musical. Having been involved with this project over six years, I have seen many of the young performers from the past go on to feature in professional theatre and even television roles after showcasing their talents as part of this project. It is obvious that this project has an incredible effect on their lives.”

The River will run at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre for the duration of the July vacation.