South Africans are in for a treat in 2017! A new original musical is currently being developed in South Africa. It will have its first run at the Joburg Theatre in August 2017, before touring locally and internationally. The musical, Calling Me Home, is now reaching the end of its development phase and tickets go on sale in January.
Calling Me Home is a powerful and epic love story of hope and finding the meaning of ‘home’. It follows a young African woman, Grace, as she flees her homeland due to the outbreak of civil war. She travels overseas where she joins a migrant community. In this new community, she experiences the heartbreak and hardships, as well as the joys and new friendships that come with starting afresh in a new country. It is a story that speaks not just to Africa, but to the world.
The musical will be directed by Magdalene Minnaar. According to Minnaar this production has the potential to have a profound impact on the world. “The content is extremely current and we have incredibly talented people in South Africa. You rarely get a chance to be part of a new local production of this calibre.”
The book, score and libretto were written by composer Alice Gillham, who is signed with EMI Music Publishing / Sony/ATV and who lives and works in South Africa.
Gillham says Africa’s majestic landscapes have always been her musical inspiration. “The continent has immense creative and performing talent and singing is a very important part of many storytelling traditions. Calling Me Home has a global story, but it starts and ends in Africa. To develop this musical anywhere else would not be authentic.”
The Cast of Calling Me Home
Final negotiations are in process and a complete Southern African cast is almost locked. According to Gillham the young cast has the opportunity to bring their characters to life for the first time. “We have carefully chosen hugely talented singers who bring storytelling energy, creativity and a spirit of adventure to this journey.”
The cast includes some of the country’s most respected musical theatre and music stars. Amongst them is Zolani Mahola, the lead singer of popular group Freshlyground. This will be Mahola’s debut in a musical theatre on stage. Mahola relishes the opportunity to bring her two passions of acting and singing together. As with most cast members, the chance to bring to life a brand new and original production strongly resonates with her. “I needed a new challenge – and this is quite a challenge,”
Mahola laughs. “I’m excited at the thought of a brand new African musical production. To be part of many voices, part of an ensemble. For me it is incredible to be on stage acting – a discipline which I studied.”
Opera singer, Christiaan Snyman who has performed on many German stages, is also looking forward to the opportunity to try on his musical theatre hat. “The music is incredibly beautiful and the characters will be challenging to play.”
According to dance captain, Luigia Casaleggio, South African performers rarely get a chance to be a part of something from the beginning. “You only see it in movies and you see it on TV shows. So I’m very excited.”
They will be joined by an exciting mix of experienced performers, as well as some rising stars you can keep an eye on.
Calling Me Home pioneering the way for cast members
In a ground-breaking move for South African theatre, the producers of Calling Me Home have decided that all cast members will earn a profit-share percentage from the production of Calling Me Home.
According to Gillham, being part of the inaugural cast of Calling Me Home, places them in a unique position to contribute not only through daily performances, but also through creative input. “Being the first person to breathe life into a character is not an easy task, and it is our ethos to reward any input, however big or small. The approach you take for you character will have a lasting impact on future performances and interpretations. Essentially it takes a village to raise a musical and we need everyone’s energy, creativity and belief to realise the beauty of Calling Me Home.”
Confirmed cast members
Lynelle Kenned – West Side Story,Showboat, Poskantoor, Blood Brothers, Orpheus in Africa, Top Billing Presenter Search
Samatha Peo – Cabaret, Aspects of Love, Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Zolani Mahola – Freshlyground, debut performance
Tankiso Mamabolo – Black Dog/ Inj’emnyama, What We Wish For, Hard Knock Life The Musical
Carly Graeme – The Boys in the Photograph, Mamma Mia, Starlight Express, We Will Rock You
Luigia Casaleggio – Mama and Ouma, 7de Laan
Annemarie Steenkamp – Orfeo, Cosi Fan Tutte
Riaan Hunter – Don Giovanni, The King and I, HMS Pinafore, The Gondoliers
Isabella Jane Snyman – SA’s got talent – 2nd runner-up, debut performance
Zion Zuke – Africa Voices Trust graduate, debut performance
Vasti Knoesen – Current Africa Voices Trust participant
Noluthando Sithole – Lion King (touring group), current Africa Voices Trust participant
Laura Lee Pitout – Bidvest of Broadway
Musanete Sakupwanya – Debut performance
Michael McMeeking – Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Christiaan Snyman – Stadttheater Koblenz (Bass Baritone), Die Zauberflöte, Salome
Pierre van Heerden – Lion King, Chicago, Cats, Rocky Horror Picture Show
Richard Gau – Moffie, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Clint Lesch – Dreamgirls, Saturday Night Fever, Starlight Express, Westside Story
Saxola Ketshengane – Molo, Hairspray the Musical
Thiart Li – Ester the Musical, Idols SA
More about the production
The production consists of two acts with a running time of 2 hours, which will be acted and sung by the multi-cultural cast of 33 – with 6 leads, 10 supporting cast and a chorus of 17. The music is as epic as it is versatile and covers the genres of classical music, African hybrid, jazz and traditional folksong.
Director: Magdalene Minnaar
Composer: Alice Gillham
Musical Director: Stefan Lombard (co-directorship with Gillham)
Set design: Nadine Minnaar
Lighting design: Joshua Cutts
Technical Director: Alistair Kilbee
Production Company: Shy Music Pty (Ltd)
For more information, visit the production`s official social media pages, or feel free to contact me.
Contact: Jako Krige
Shy Music Production (Cape Town Office)
082 373 3482 / 021 462 3583
“The style of the music, the words and the entire concept blew me away and I have every reason to believe that this is a potential hit show… I was hooked from the first song I heard – epic, sophisticated, heartfelt and sincere are words that spring to mind.” – Rodney Trudgeon, Fine Music Radio
“This is a story that will not only resonate with South Africans, but to the world at large and we are confident that the production has all the critical musical and storytelling components needed to ensure its worldwide success.” – Rowlin Naiker, Managing Director – Sony / ATV South Africa
Bookings will open at Webtickets from January.