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Tuesday, October 19, 2021


(Above: Lyle Buxton, Tshepo Ncokoane, Amanda Kunene & Sam Landers. Pic by Val Adamson)

Featuring 20 new songs, from 21 local theatre composers, Cabaret and Beyond opened at Seabrooke’s Theatre last week and is certainly one of the most incredible, fascinating and exciting theatre experiences I’ve ever had. Catch the extra show if you can!(Review by Caroline Smart)

Last week saw the opening of a truly exciting event. This was the launch of Cabaret and Beyond, a new festival based in Durban, the brainchild of musician/composer Roland Perold and Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) director, Ismail Mahomed.

It will add to the number of festivals already handled by the CCA: Jomba!; Durban International Film Festival, Time of the Writer and Poetry Africa as well as the recently created Jazz Festival.

The Cabaret and Beyond Festival forms a partnership with the CCA and the Mandela Bay Theatre Complex in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth).

Mahomed explains the festival focus: “From songs that have grown out of pain to those that burst with joyous celebration, cabaret and musical theatre is a dynamic catalyst for dialogue while at the same time making a vital contribution to a cultural economy.

(Left: Amanda Kunene. Pic by Val Adamson)

“The vision underlining the inaugural Cabaret and Beyond Festival and this showcase of original Musical Theatre is to develop work on an intimate scale allowing new writers the opportunity to tell their own stories in a sustainable way; both serving and cultivating an audience for new works. Works that display artistic excellence and have broad entertainment value,” he adds.

Two winning composers will be given a grant each to develop their song/music into a one-act musical with four singers, a director, dramaturgical support and a design team.

Composers featured in the first half were: Dionne Song, Zolani Shangase, Emkay Khanyile, Marcel Meyer & Wessel Odendaal, Roné Roux, Marcel Meyer, Dani Petersen, Ntlantla Swana, Leah Mari, Zeph Nzama, Jaco Griessel, Trudy Rozani

Composers in the second half were: Marcel Meyer, Bulelani Lamani, Rexleigh Bunyard, Tankiso Mamabolo, Godfrey Johnson, Mtho Zulu, Luca Hart, Tsitsi Sachikonye, Leah Mari, and Roland Perold

(Right: Lyle Buxton: Pic by Val Adamson)

As curator, Roland Perold selected the song list from all the submitted material. “We chose the cast with versatility in mind. The cast - Amanda Kunene, Lyle Buxton, Sam Landers, Tshepo Ncokoane - are excellent musical theatre performers (who can act!) and they were able to give each individual song the treatment it deserved,” says Perold.

The perfect choice of director was Durban-based Steven Stead of the multi award-winning KickstArt productions, who is never afraid to face a challenge. “I directed each song as a stand-alone theatre piece with a punch-line.”

He did just that! Featuring 20 new songs, from 21 local theatre composers, Cabaret and Beyond opened at Seabrooke’s Theatre last week and is certainly one of the most incredible, fascinating and exciting theatre experiences I’ve ever had.

Under Stead’s brilliant direction, each song was indeed a “story experience” in its own, ranging in musical style and mood and demanding each performer to rise to the full extent of their versatility, from a sense of gentleness, understanding of irony, capacity for comedy, quality of vocal power and articulation as well as an appreciation of different styles.

With the splendid accompaniment support of musical director, Wessel Odendaal, I found myself going “Wow!” after each number as each performer gave their best.

(Right: Tshepo Ncokoane. Pic by Val Adamson)

Two of these completely “Wow” numbers included the beautiful prayer that could easily become an anthem about the state of the world through Covid: Lord, Save Us From Corona, composed by Bulelani Lamani and sung by Tshepo Ncokoane. The other was Roland Perold’s PESP Debacle sung by the full cast, making a strong attack at the lack of government support for the arts, a song that fully resonated with cast and audience alike!

Many numbers had a satirical feel, almost a mix of Sondheim and Brel. The exciting thing was that each song was a premier being heard in the world for the first time – right here in Durban!

Designer Karabo Legoabe Mtshali presented a simple set of blocks, keeping the cast on stage all through – a perfect ensemble. Tina le Roux’s lighting was excellent as usual with good balanced sound by Brandon Bunyan and Jason Bird.

(Left: Sam Landers. Pic by Val Adamson)

The production, comprising two one-act musicals, will open in the Nelson Mandela Bay Theatre Complex in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) in March 2022 and will return to Durban soon after that.

In the meantime, Cabaret and Beyond runs until October 24 at the Seabrooke’s Theatre at DHS in St Thomas Road, Musgrave.

However, all these shows are now sold out to the point where the organisers have had to put in an extra show on Saturday October 23 at 15h00 and tickets are still available. Catch the extra show if you can!

Tickets R100. Booking is essential through

All COVID 19 protocols will be observed. - Caroline Smart

For more information visit the Cabaret and Beyond Festival website: