Ancient Tales

The National Children’s Theatre in Parktown presented “Aesop’s Fables” for a brief, brief moment before the theatre, headed by Moira Katz, did a voluntary shut down in the face of COVID-19.

Written by a Greek slave, sometimes believed to have been of Ethiopian/African origin, Aesop’s tales are approximately 2600 years old. That they have survived into the 21st century is a testimony to their effectiveness and continued relevance.

Humans generally, and children particularly, enjoy anthropomorphic stories. Aesop’s Fables superimpose human characteristics onto a variety of animals to create delightful stories with morals that even quite small children can work out for themselves. Ryan Dittmann, the director of this gem, mostly lets the children get on with drawing their own conclusions, which is exactly as it should be.

Lillian Tshabalala, Refilwe Motgotlhoe, Ntsika Benya (Photograph supplied)

The cast is made up of Lillian Tshabalala, Ntsika Benya, Refilwe Mokgotlhoa and Daniela Caprin. Each played multiple characters with charm and imagination, although I was particularly drawn to some of the portrayals of Ms Mokgottlhoa who has wonderfully expressive face. Daniela Caprin was the puppeteer in the story of the lion and the mouse and she managed to become invisible to me as I was transfixed by the mouse. That is its own wizardry.

Ntsika Benya, Daniela Caprin, Lillian Tshabalala (Photograph supplied)

The creative team used at the National Children’s Theatre works together on most productions and the simple but effective set by Stan Knight and the understated African bright costumes by Sarah Roberts and unintrusive lighting by Jane Gosnell work, as always, with great effectiveness.

Christine Ludwig was the musical director, choreography was by Teekay Baloyi and stage management by newcomer, Nikki Grobler, who was so sweet about me wheeling myself all over her performance ready stage. Yes, the theatre is actually wheelchair accessible.

The success of any production can be judged by how one responds after the actors have taken their final bow, and we had a conversation about the fables in the car as the children processed what they had seen. Interestingly, the material was already familiar to a first grader.

The production was a success. The children loved it. From my point of view as a childless woman, good theatre is good theatre and if it doesn’t work for adults, it certainly isn’t good enough for children. “Aesop’s Fables” as a theatrical production is as magical as the original stories, and it certainly deserves to reopen when the South African situation returns to what I expect will be a “new normal” in what I pray may be a short while. I will attend again. I loved it.

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Secret lunch gem

Winter in Gauteng has cold nights, but barring the odd cold front from the Cape, we usually have glorious sunny and pleasantly warm days between 11:00 and 15:00.

The East Rand’s jewel, Emperors Palace, offers its guests the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful lunch in the magnificent garden restaurant of their five star hotel, the D’Oreale Grand. The name of this restaurant is “Aurelia’s”.

A friend and I recently enjoyed a leisurely and not too expensive lunch overlooking the flowing fountain.

My Caesar Salad

We had substantial salads at R90 for the Greek salad and R100 for the Caesar salad with smoked chicken. A 220g sirloin steak is R175. Not unreasonable. But it was our cuppuccinos that delighted us. Served with a mini cupcake they make a perfect ending to lunch.

Of course, Emperors Palace is a great place to meet, with lots of safe parking, plenty of entertainment and the opportunity to have a little flutter at the slots (from 2 cents upwards) or at the tables for those who love the James Bond Casino feel at R20 upwards.

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JMS to hear brilliant young musicians

Internationally recognised as performer and teacher, Alexander Gilman founded and leads the LGT Young Soloists, a unique string ensemble of gifted young players from over 15 nations that has toured Europe and Asia, has recorded prolifically. LGT Young Soloists receive rave reviews throughout the world for its performances.

An international version of our own Buskaid string ensemble, this is sure to be an uplifting and enjoyable concert.

Director Alexander Gilman (violin) and LGT Young Soloists

When: 15 March 2020 at 17:00

Where: Linder Auditorium, Wits Education Campus, St Andrews Road, Parktown.

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Porgy and Bess

The latest offering from the Met for cinemas around the world in their Live in HD series is the American classic “Porgy and Bess”.

It was outstanding. I thoroughly enjoyed Angel Blue as Bess and Eric Owens as Porgy. South African Golda Schultz appears as Clara.

Well worth seeing.

#CinemaNouveau

Angel Blue as Bess in Porgy and Bess
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Valentine’s Variety Concert

The Linder Auditorium was almost entirely sold out. It was Friday, 14 February 2020. It was the start of the Summer Symphony Season of the JPO.

What a fabulous evening! There were LOTS of young people of all hues in the audience. A dream of classical music audience builders everywhere. Well done to the team that put this magnificent concert into place.

Conductor William Eddings from USA (left) and soloist Goran Krivokapic (guitar) of Germany at the VIP party after the concert.

Under the baton of William Eddings the programme of accessible music unfolded. Berlioz’ “Un Bal” from the “Symphony Fantastique” was followed by Rodrigo’s famous “Concierto de Aranjuez”.

Mascagni’s “Intermezzo” from “Cavelleria Rusticana” was followed by Zandili Mzazi, soprano, performing Massenet’s “Je marche sur tous les chemins” from “Manon” and then the orchestra performed the Adagio from “Spartacus” by Khachaturian.

After interval Mzazi returned to perform “E strano… Follie Follie… Sempre libera” from “La Travia”. In what the concert master, Miro Chakaryan, thinks might be a world first, the tenor was violist Kgaugelo Mpyane performing from his place within the orchestra. Such a surprise.

Elgar’s “Salut d’amour” was followed by Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture”.

The Lehar encore was OWNED by Zandile Mzazi as she tossed flowers into the audience.

There was nothing to dislike. Everything was in keeping with the theme of Valentine’s Day without becoming a Last Night of the Proms or Viennese New Year Concert type programme.

Zandili Mzazi at the afterparty. With me. 😅

This concert was performed three times (12th, 13th and 14th) at the home of the JPO, the Linder Auditorium.

Next week will feature an unusual work with an interesting and sad backstory – Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for Left Hand” played by Maxime Zucchini on piano.

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I did the time warp again

I went back to see the Rocky Horror Show at the Teatro, Montecasino, a second time. I have no greater honour to bestow on a production in these days of limited energy.

My first outing to see Craig Urbani in the role of Frank N Furter was opening night. The audiences, made up of media, VIPs, cast guests and theatre friends, on opening nights are different to audiences on any other night. The audience for my second excursion was different. These were hardcore fans of various ages, some who remember the original (movie at least) and others for whom this strange cult is a new experience. A lot of them dressed for the experience and they set out to enjoy themselves. They were not disappointed.

I loved, loved, loved, the production. It was even more of a pleasure the second time round. A lot of the audience for this will be returning fans. The only minor gripe I have is that the Teatro is simply too big to allow the scripted heckling from knowledgeable audience members and that there were no packets of “props” for sale.

The entire show is slick and sassy amd there are no weak links. The music is fabulous and the diction from everyone is very good. It is important to the storyline especially for Rocky virgins.

I have already reviewed this production so I am not going to repeat myself. Well done to everyone.

This is well worth seeing. It was a sold out house the weekend I saw it. Book early.

T

CL

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Meet Miss Universe in Joburg

Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019, is expected to arrive at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Saturday, 8 February. “Members of the public are encouraged to attend from 07:00,” the statement reads. 

Her welcome will include a performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir and will see the Minister of Communications and Telecommunications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Makhotso Sotyu, as well as the current Miss SA Sasha-Lee Olivier in attendance. 

Fans who wish to attend the welcome at the airport will be able to travel free of charge via the Gautrain from Pretoria, Midrand, Marlboro and Park Stations. “To gain access to the OR Tambo bound train, passengers will have to say: ‘Gautrain took me there’.”

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