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Friday, January 29, 2010


(Pic by Illa Thompson taken in rehearsal: The lovers: Caitlin Kilburn as Aldonza and Cobus Venter as Don Quixote)

TheatreBIZ presents first production of 2010 with Dale Wasserman’s musical at Catalina Theatre.

As its first production of 2010, TheatreBIZ presents Dale Wasserman’s Man of La Mancha at the Catalina Theatre from February4.

TheatreBIZ aims to reclaim Man of La Mancha's experimental roots and turn it back into the show it was originally meant to be. Written in the middle of the turbulent 1960s (one year before Hair), it explores the price paid for the losses of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, two fundamental rights that are being threatened every day by governments and institutions throughout Africa.

It's about the dangers of mixing religion and government, about the destructive power of religious absolutism, about throwing people in jail for dissent, about violence against women, and it's about people standing up for themselves and refusing to be silenced - just like the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, the gay rights and women's rights movements of the 70s, and the AIDS movement of the 80s. There is hardly a show that is more potent right now, at this moment in history.

The show also explores the roles of audience and actor, the power of the imagination, and the usually passive nature of modern audiences in this age of increasingly mind-numbing mainstream entertainment.

Dale Wasserman's script used the classic novel Don Quixote as a jumping off place, as it originally told the story of Quixote's author, Miguel de Cervantes and his courage in standing up to the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. TheatreBIZ has set the musical in a new context where criminals and a few riotous students arrested after mayhem at the Ballito ‘rage’ are held together in the overcrowded backyard of the Ballito Police station. As they sit in prison waiting to be called for processing and interrogation, they tell the other prisoners the tale of this mad knight, Don Quixote, fighting for justice, purity, freedom, and above all, love. All these years later, it's still a powerhouse of a musical, with a rich, Spanish-flavoured score by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion. Man of La Mancha argues, quite persuasively, that theatre and storytelling aren't just important, they are a matter of life and death.

The production is directed by award-winning director, Themi Venturas and has an ensemble cast led by Cobus Venter (seen as Freddie Einsford-Hill in My Fair Lady recently) as Don Quixote and Liam Magner (of Neon Anthems and Spit Monkey fame) as his sidekick Sancho with Caitlin Kilburn as Aldonza. Under the musical direction of Luke Holder, currently head of music at Westville Boys High School who makes his debut at the Catalina Theatre, the musicians/cast members of the cast will be led by virtuoso ‘flamenco’ guitarist Demi Fernandez.

Also in the cast are Grant Jacobs, Professor Bhengu, Ntando Ncube, Lungelo Gwala; Ayanda Khanyile, Allison Grace; Judith Hawthorne; Silindile Ndlovu; Simthandile Mtolo; Maya Spector; Nomonde Matiwane and Demi Fernandez

The original Man of La Mancha is a musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh inspired by Miguel de Cervante’s Don Quixote; it was adapted from Wasserman’s production I Don Quixote.

Man of La Mancha previews at Catalina Theatre from February 4 until its opening on February 10, thereafter it will run until March 7. Performances are Thursday to Saturdays at 20h00 with an early show at 17h00 on Saturdays (Sundays at 14h00 and 18h00) Tickets R90 (R50 for previews and matinees.) Bookings through Thandeka on 031 305 6889 or email

Catalina Theatre tickets are now available online at or at or at /

The Catalina Theatre is still functioning thanks to support from Rainbow Chicken; National Arts Council and Ethekwini Municipality.