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Friday, November 11, 2011


Rising Star Performing Arts Academy presents energetic theatre production. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Some 23 cast members, backstage crew and a number of hectic scene changes on the Seabrooke’s stage at DHS! That’s some challenge but one that has been handled with aplomb by the two directors of the Rising Star Performing Arts Academy, Andrea Nel and Gillian Brunings.

Although their personal training and experience was founded on different continents, it was in Durban in 2007 that they met and joined forces. They grew their initial seven-student drama club into a drama academy which now teaches over 250 students and their plans for the future are impressive. Their programme notes state that it’s not about the fame or fortune but “the joy of seeing the emotional, mental and theatrical development in our students.”

With an amusing script written by Gillian Brunings and directed by Andrea Nel, Galaxy Rock! is the Academy’s first major production. It is set in Durban which is suddenly invaded by a group of space aliens. They have misinterpreted a call from a young girl band who are fanatic players of Band Hero, the console rock game. The aliens send out a challenge to compete in the ultimate “Rock Battle”, the winner to decide the fate of Earth.

In striking makeup, the aliens are played by Pierre Parrott as Major Zon supported by Jasmyn Connor (Zing); Erich Viviers (Zorb) and Precious Schmitt (Zoot).

The band features Marinel Taljaard (Jess), Marianthe Panas (Jamie); Kiara Teunissen (Storm) and Sarah Thompson (Toni), the latter giving a focused and notable performance. Adding fireworks to the rock battle is Khanyi Mlaba as the volatile Jo.

Mention must also be made of Roxy McVean as Toni’s long-suffering mother, Gareth Naylor as Principal Wilson, Casey Milledge as the teacher and Zane Meslani as the DJ Ray Dio.

The performers range from ages 10 to 17, all at different stages of theatrical development. The song line-up includes rock classics from the 70s and 80s and while there is sometimes more enthusiasm than accurate musical pitch, the energy and commitment of these youngsters carries the production along.

The Rising Star Performing Arts Academy hopes to create a performing arts centre one day offering tuition for all genres of the arts under one roof. As they say “We just need to find that roof and perhaps get sponsorship to buy that roof!” You can contact Andrea and Gill at the Rising Star Performing Arts Academy on 082 994 0984, 083 326 3257, fax 086 647 6428 or email: or visit

Galaxy Rock! runs at Seabrooke’s Theatre, DHS, nightly at 19h00 until November 12 when there is a matinee performance at 14h00. Tickets R60 (R40 children 4-14yrs) available from / seabrooke' or call Colin on 031 277 1500. – Caroline Smart