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Saturday, March 9, 2013


(Sharon Dee as Mary Magdalene. Pic by Val Adamson)

This Easter, Catalina UnLtd in Durban, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund will bring the nation an exciting brand-new, original gospel opera-musical – The African Passion – which is set to tour to major South African cities over the Easter period.

This production brings the Passion of Christ to life in a sung-through musical featuring original, innovative gospel-inspired songs. The story is based on the Gospel according to St John and will be a choral masterwork featuring close to a hundred voices on stage in every city.

The libretto is written by Themi Venturas and the music is composed by celebrated and award-winning gospel choral composer Phelelani Mnomiya; Anthony Govender of Destiny Music, and the Young Mbazo (grandchildren of world-renowned acappella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo). The production provides the perfect way to celebrate Easter this year.

Under the direction of Themi Venturas, the show features Faca Kulu (The Lion King in New York) as Jesus, Natalia da Rocha (original Natasha in Jimbo) as his mother Mary, Sharon Dee as Mary Magdalene, former Durban actor Grant Jacobs as Simon Peter, Dewaldt Von Solms (of the singing duo Von West) as Pontius Pilate.

Caitlin Kilburn, well-remembered for her performance as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, is Pilate’s wife with Blessing Xaba (seen as Fatty in the movie of John van de Ruit’s Spud) as Caiaphas, Aubrey Lodewyk (last seen in Handel’s Messiah and The Mandela Trilogy) as Annas and a host of other superb singers featuring the isicathamiya group, Young Mbazo.

In each centre throughout South Africa, the cast of 21 will be supplemented by a 60-strong local choir: the Umlazi Oasis Church Choir and the Clermont Choir in Durban; the Transnet Port Terminals and Bella Voce Choirs in PE; the Shekinah Full Gospel Church Choir in Cape Town; the University of Johannesburg Choir in Soweto and Jo’burg and the Moses Reid Memorial Choir in Mafeking.

The African Passion plays out against a spectacular audiovisual background using the latest in modern AV technology in costumes designed by Nompumelelo Mkhize. Choreography is by Daisy Spencer and vocal direction by DesireĆ© Govender. Bookings are at Computicket except for the Jo’burg theatre (

Charities, churches and fundraisers are encouraged to use the show to raise funds for their organisations. Those interested should contact the national sales manager of The African Passion, Ailsa Windsor on 083 250 2690 or

The African Passion runs from March 14 (the world premiere) to March 17 at the Umlazi Oasis Fellowship Centre. Performances Thursday to Friday at 19h00, Saturday at 14h00 and 19h00 and Sunday at 14h00. Tickets R100 @ Computicket. A further run back in Durban from April 26 to 28 is still to be confirmed.

The African Passion is produced by Catalina UnLtd in Durban has been funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. It is supported by Safm; The Daily News / Argus / Star Tonight; Vuma 103 FM and DSTV channels: One Gospel Television; Dumisa TV; Soweto TV; 1KZN TV and Nelson Mandela Bay TV.

The tour includes Port Elizabeth (PE Opera House: March 21–24); Cape Town (Baxter Main Theatre: March 28-31); Soweto (Soweto Theatre: April 5–7); Johannesburg (Jo’burg Theatre: April 11–14), and Mafikeng (Mmabatho Civic Centre: April 18–21)