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Sunday, March 20, 2022


(Above: “Call Me A Fool” company: Left to Right: Evan Roberts, Kaylee McIlroy, Roshanda Lewis & Steven Stead. Photo by Val Adamson)

Audiences will be the first to see two brand new South African chamber musicals at the Athenaeum Theatre in Gqebera at the end of March. La Familia by Ntlantla Swana & Khanyisa Sigwanda, as well as Call Me A Fool by Leah Mari, are produced by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in association with Mandela Bay Theatre Complex. 

The production includes the acclaimed Janice Honeyman, who has provided dramaturgical support to the two new musical theatre writers. These musicals are the culmination of the inaugural "Cabaret and Beyond Festival".

An exciting line-up of creatives and cast members have been assembled in Durban, where rehearsals are currently underway. Internationally-recognized playwright and director Philisiwe Twijnstra is directing La Familia, a show about the pressures of being firstborn in a South African township family. Minenhle Sikhosana takes the role of Sihle, who must find ways to navigate the pressures from her family while trying to keep up with Lisa, her sassy schoolfriend, played by Kaylee McIlroy. Mom is played by Sam Hlope, well-known for her role as "Chunks" on Isithembiso.

(“La Familia”: Sam Hlope & Minenhle Sikhosana. Photo by Val Adamson)

Mari's musical, Call Me A Fool, is a modern-day tale about the risks of falling in love too quickly, seen through the eyes of Amy and Zara, played by Roshanda Lewis and Kaylee McIlroy (who appears in both shows). Lewis has been seen in KickstArt musical productions and is a recent AFDA graduate. 

McIlroy graduated from UCT Drama School and appeared in Juliet Jenkin's piece, Woolworths and Horn of Sorrow, which recently toured throughout KZN. Musical director and much-loved Durban jazz pianist Evan Roberts took the cast through the score with Steven Stead, of KickstArt fame, directing.

Project manager Roland Perold, who also musically directs La Familia, says the rehearsal period is keeping everyone on their toes: "These are one-act musicals, each 50 minutes long. The writers' and composers' styles are very different, so there's great variety emanating from the two rehearsal spaces. The audience is going to get a lot of bang for their buck seeing these vastly different sounding, and looking, productions that will play together as a double bill with an interval".

The run at the Athenaeum in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) is from March 24 to 26, with tickets available from the Mandela Bay Theatre Complex (24th at 19h00, 25th at 16h00, 26th at 15h00). The production will return to Durban for a limited engagement at Seabrooke's Theatre: March 31 to April 2 at 19h00 and Sunday April 3 at 11h00. Tickets for the Durban run on sale for R100 through