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Tuesday, November 13, 2018


(Masego Mothibakgomo, Jonathan Blaine Shore, Marvin Molepo & Luciano Zuppa)

Johannesburg’s Peoples Theatre in Braamfontein are presenting Beauty and the Beast. Directed by Jill Girard and Keith Smith, the fairytale was originally written by French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.

The show, which runs until December 23, 2018, has two cast members with strong KZN links:  Ayanda Sibisi and Luciano Zuppa.

Ayanda Sibisi is no stranger to the role she fills in Beauty and the Beast, that of the wardrobe, Madame de la Grande Bouche, having performed the role for Durban’s Kickstart Productions. For her turn in the production, she was received a best newcomer nomination at the Mercury Durban Theatre Awards.

(Ayanda Sibisi)

Sibisi, who obtained her National Diploma in Drama Studies at the Durban University of Technology in 2010, began pursuing her acting career fulltime in 2012 in the Playhouse production of Cinderella.

She has since appeared in The Lion King, which saw her travel to Hong Kong, Shrek Jr the Musical at the Peoples Theatre, The Lion Library, in isiZulu, at The National Children’s Theatre, Chapter 2 Section 9 at the Sibikwa Arts Centre, Fantasy of Lights, Buddy Holly and, most recently, The Color Purple. Sibisi’s television roles include Top Actor and The Herd.

Luciano Zuppa needs no introduction to South Africa’s theatre-goers. He began his career at the famed No 58 Theatre Restaurant in Hillbrow in the cabaret revues It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Us, Beatles in Season and Bless My Soul It’s Rock ‘n Roll.

Since then he has sung, danced and acted his way through the musicals The Pirates of Penzance, Singing in the Rain, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, Grease, Hair, The King and I, Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert and the musical trilogy, Sweeney Todd, Sweet Charity and Candide. The latter was directed by the late Geoffrey Sutherland for the Playhouse in Durban.

Zuppa has taken the lead role in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oklahoma! and West Side Story, while cabaret tours have included Elton John - This Is His Song, New York State of Mind and Putting It Together with Stephen Sondheim.

He lists among his career highlights The Best of Rice and Webber at Durban’s Playhouse complex. He says he especially enjoyed performing in the national tours of Queen at the Opera, for which he was nominated for three regional Vita awards, playing the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Mr Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors and Judge Turpin in the Naledi award-winning Pieter Toerien and KickstArt production of Sweeney Todd. Beauty and the Beast will be his fifth production for the Peoples Theatre.

Beauty and the Beast, revolves around a cruel young prince who is turned into a hideous beast by an enchantress. To break the spell, the Beast must learn to love another and earn her love in return before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose.

Beauty and the Beast has had many incarnations, but its many messages, most notably to not judge a book by its cover, remain constant.

“It is these educational messages that the cast of the production will bring to life to delight young audiences in the coming months,” say Girard and Smith, adding that their intention is also to inculcate a love of reading in children.

Beauty and the Beast’s cast features Masego Mothibakgomo as Belle and Jonathan Blaine Shore who stars as the Beast.