West Side Story Artscape Theatre

In March after popular demand, producer and human rights activist Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story returned to the Artscape. The American musical has been performed in Cape Town before and audiences raved about the brilliant actors, singers, dancers, music, and sets!

Jerome Robbins – Choreographer

Grant van Stern – Choreographer

Artscape Theatre

Artscape is one of my favorite performing arts venues in Cape Town. The theatre opened in 1971 as the Nico Malan Theatre Centre. It was renamed in 2001 and now belongs to the Western Cape Government.

Officer Krupke and Detective Schrank

The spectacular opera house has an exciting ambiance, including gardens, rehearsal rooms, and a stylish foyer. Over the years, I’ve joined friends there for memorable opera, ballet, musical, and comedy performances! Last night’s brilliant performance didn’t disappoint!

Eric Abraham – Film, Television, Theatre Producer

Stephen Sondheim – Songwriter

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“West Side Story is a musical about cultural differences, racism, forbidden love, revenge, and death.”
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Arthur Laurents – Screenwriter

Plot

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story’s timeless plot is set on the “harsh streets of New York City’s Upper West Side in the 1950s”.

Rival street gangs, the Puerto Rican Sharks and Caucasian Jets, battle in a turf-war to gain control of the neighborhood. Tensions rise when Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, leader of the rival Sharks.

Production

American choreographer Jerome Robbins conceived the story in 1957, and playwright and screenwriter Arthur Laurents wrote the West Side Story book. Renowned composer Leonard Bernstein created the musical score with lyrics written by songwriter Stephen Sondheim.

Michael Brenner – Producer

The 1961 film version of West Side Story “won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actor and actress, best director, and best cinematographer”. The film also won a Grammy for best soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly one of the best musicals ever written.

Louisa Talbot – Choreographer

South Africa’s Matthew Wild directs the Artscape production with Charl Johan Lingenfelder as musical director and conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Louisa Talbot choreographed the production with Grant van Ster as resident choreographer and dance captain.

Charl Johan Lingenfelder – Musical Director and Conductor

In 2018, West Side Story is once again “sweeping Capetonians off their feet”! How could it not with the fabulous Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra performing in the pit and an outstanding cast of forty exceptional performers?

Cast of Characters

Lynelle Kenned plays the role of Maria, a hopeless romantic who falls in love with Tony and finds herself at the center of a violent conflict between the Jets and Sharks. Kenned won the Fleur du Cap Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. Among her many talents Kenned is a soprano opera singer with a marvelous voice!

The main character Tony – former Jets leader – is torn between his gang friends and love for Maria. The part is played by talented US actor Kevin Hack who has performed the role almost 400 times. Hack recently completed an international tour playing in the 60th anniversary international tour of German producer Michael Brenner’s production of West Side Story.

Matthew Wild – Director

Singer, pianist, violinist, dancer, and actress Bianca Le Grange plays Anita, Maria’s friend and Bernardo’s girlfriend. Daniel Mpilo Richards plays Bernardo, proud leader or the Sharks.

Leonard Bernstein – Composer and Conductor

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“The choreography exudes vibrant waves of emotion from act to act leaving its audience’s heart thumping!”

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Artscape Foyer

Artscape Theatre Centre Cape Town

Artscape Foyer Upper Level Lounge

Sculptures Artscape Entrance

The actors are multi-talented with impressive accomplishments and careers. The beautiful, strong dancers were magnificent!!! Main characters include:

  1. Lynelle Kenned – Maria, Bernardo’s sister in love with Tony
  2. Kevin Hack – Tony, former Jets leader in love with Maria
  3. Bianca Le Grange – Anita, Jet, Bernardo’s girlfriend, Maria’s friend
  4. Daniel Mpilo Richards – Bernardo, Shark leader, Maria’s brother, Anita’s boyfriend
  5. Stephen Jubber – Riff, quick-­tempered Jets leader
  6. Sven-Eric Muller – Diesel, Jets second-in-­command
  7. Craig Urbani – Schrank, police detective
  8. Richard Lothian – Officer Krupke, beat cop
  9. James Borthwick – Doc, owner of the store where the Jets hang out
  10. Clint Lesch – Chino, Jet, Maria’s suitor, and friend of Bernardo
  11. Logan Timbre – Action, quick-­‐tempered member of the Jets

West Side Story Artscape Willem Law Photographer

It was an interesting, eclectic crowd attending the performance – an evening of entertainment by extraordinarily talented young artists! Many more than mentioned here helped with production of the musical.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Next weekend Artscape hosts the 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival. The exciting lineup includes Alistair Izobell, Amanda Black, GrazRoots Project, Blinky Bill, Claire Phillips, Miles Mosley, Nduduzo Makhathini, Mabuta, Louis Moholo, and many more outstanding artists!

The Emissary Alexander Bar and Café

Emily Child and Andrew Laubscher

Emily Child and Andrew Laubscher – The Emissary

Yesterday I attended a Cape Town Fringe Festival performance – The Emissary – at Alexander Bar and Café Theatre. Written and directed by South African playwright Louis Viljoen, the gripping two-actor play stars impressive award-winning actors Emily Child and Andrew Laubscher. The short production is a “dark study of a friendship rooted in a lie”.

Plot Summary

“While waiting for her long-term boyfriend Patrick to return from an extended stay overseas, Delia agrees to meet Douglas, Patrick’s best friend, to discuss the tensions brewing between them since the beginning of their relationship. One of them is hiding something terrible and this is the night when old wounds and secrets resurface. What follows is an unnerving examination of two troubled people who think they know each other, but have no idea what awful things can lurk in the soul.”

Louis Viljoen

Louis Viljoen Playwright and Director

Louis Viljoen Playwright and Director

Louis Viljoen is a Cape Town based playwright. He’s the Writer in Residence for The Fugard Theatre. No nonsense, self-taught Viljoen helped create the successful short-play initiative “Anthology” which had three successful seasons at the Alexander. He won Fleur Du Cap awards for his plays Champ (2013) and The Kingmakers (2015) and in 2015 the Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for New Directors for The Pervert Laura.

Emily Child Actress

Emily Child A Certain Lady

Emily Child Actress

Emily Child graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Theatre and Performance Degree. She performs independently and as a member of the acclaimed Cape Town based theatre troupe – The Mechanicals.

An accomplished actress, Child has won many awards and nominations, including the 2015 Fleur Du Cap for Best Actress for the role of “Laura” in Viljoen’s The Pervert Laura. Some of her other theatre projects include King Lear and Viljoen’s Champ which traveled to the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in 2013.

Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre

Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre

In 2014 her one woman show, A Certain Lady, based on Dorothy Parker’s short stories and directed by playwright Greg Karvellas, performed around Cape Town. Recently Emily appeared in Born in the RSA at The Baxter Studio Theatre and Grahamstown Festival directed by Thoko Ntshinga. She also starred in UK playwright Mike Bartlett’s production Contractions performed at Alexander Theatre.

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Billboard The Pervert Laura

On camera Emily’s projects include the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) winning series Armed Response and BBC’s youth series Young Leonardo. She stars in two compelling feature films to be released in 2017 – Director Craig Freimond’s Beyond the River and Shirley Adams written by South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus.

Andrew Laubscher

Andrew Laubscher Actor

Andrew Laubscher Actor

Andrew Laubscher is a Cape Town based film and theatre actor. Andrew’s performance highlights include Mirror, Cosi, As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Scandinavian playwright Jorgen Lovborg’s play Lovborg’s Women.

In 2014 Andrew won the Fleur de Cap Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance as Riff-Raff in The Rocky Horror Show. His most recent work includes Anthology: Anti-Matter directed by Louis Viljoen and the compelling South African film Modder en Bloed – Blood and Glory in Afrikaans.

Laubscher graduated from the University of Cape Town’s School of Drama. He’s involved in children’s theatre, Shakespeare at Maynardville, and productions for The Mechanicals and The Pink Couch, including Mafeking Road, an adaption of short stories by South African writer Herman Charles Bosman.

Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre

Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre

The Emissary is a shocking play and the edgy performances of both actors were extraordinary! I planned to stay for dinner at the Café but was so taken by the performance needed to get outside and walk. I met a French tourist on the patio who was also reeling from the play and after a second viewing still dazzled by the high-quality acting.

Andrew Laubscher and Emily Child

Andrew Laubscher and Emily Child

This was the last run for The Emissary but several other plays are appearing at the Alexander. I enjoyed the atmosphere and will return for more entertaining performances by talented actors, playwrights, and directors in a theatre-rich city.