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Saturday, June 15, 2013


(Camilla van der Merwe and Langelihle Mnxati who alternate in the roles of Nellie Forbush and Emile)
Young artists from Southern Methodist University (SMU) will collaborate with the very talented singers and dancers of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) for the third time in Durban to create an exciting and fun-filled evening of entertainment from the “Golden Age of Musicals.”

The production this year is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Set in the South Pacific Islands close to the end of World War II, the show was chosen for its historical, educational, and social lessons at a time of great world stress and commitment.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score, South Pacific is considered to be one of the greatest Broadway musicals and is the only musical production to have won all four Tony Awards for acting.

It tells the story of an American nurse, Ensign Nellie Forbush, stationed at a US Naval base, who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed-race children. A second romance concerns a US Marine Lieutenant who falls in love with a young Polynesian woman from the islands. The issues of racial prejudice and intermarriage are candidly explored throughout the musical, which was first performed in April 1949.

The collaborative efforts between SMU and UKZN began in 2000. At that time, Professor Barbara Hill Moore came to work with Professors David Smith, Colleen Philp and Andrew Warburton and their talented singers to offer a bursary for an exceptional singer wishing to study in America.

Since then, Professor Hill Moore has worked with faculty and singers throughout South Africa. In 2005, she brought a group of 22 singers to South Africa to mount a collaborative concert version of Porgy and Bess that the singers performed with students of UKZN, University of Cape Town, Tshwane University of Technology, and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. In 2011, she brought a class of eight students from SMU to do a production of Bernstein’s West Side Story with students and faculty of UKZN and this year, yet another exciting collaboration involves 11 students from SMU and 37 students of UKZN to present four performances of South Pacific!

Professor Hill Moore has given full bursaries to 17 South African singers to come to America for advanced study since 2000. Among the singers she has brought to America are Dr Bronwen Forbay, Lionel Mkhwanazi (presently on the UKZN faculty), Professor Patrick Tikolo (Chair of Voice at UCT), Mhlaba Buthelezi presently teaching on the faculty at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, Dr Conroy Cupido (Chair of Voice at North-West University Potchefstroom), Christiaan Bester, (receiving the Doctorate in Music from the University of North Texas in May 2014), Maria Jooste, Lucretia Geswinnt, Otto Maidi, Phandulwazi Maseti, Selby Hlangu, Thandulwazi Ncube and many others, singing and teaching in South Africa and throughout the world.  All are successful and professionally admirable young artists who are creating, producing and performing professionally in their communities every day.

With a company of 50 singers and dancers, the South Pacific production will be an exhilarating evening. UKZN Professor Jürgen Bräuninger, Head of Music and Professor Lionel Mkhwanazi from the Opera School and Choral Academy are the university hosts of this project. Professor Mkhwanazi also serves as Associate Producer and Chorus Master as he did in the 2011 production of West Side Story.

Professor Hill Moore will produce the show and conduct the four piece instrumental ensemble. The Director/Choreographer is Roger Riggle of Washington, DC, who has done the show many times in the past few years. The stage management and technical staff will be led by UKZN Dance faculty, Rowin Munsamy and the l technicians of the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.  Admission is free but tickets are required and the audience is advised to arrive 60 minutes prior to the performance in order to get on the admission list.

South Pacific will take place in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with a double cast in four performances on the evenings of June 20 to 22 at 19h00 and on June 23 at 15h00. For reservations contact 031 260 3353 or email