A musical extravaganza

2011-06-29 00:00

estelle sinkins

TWO young midlands actors will be treading the boards in Seussical, this year’s Rainbow Young Performers’ Project, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Durban campus, from Saturday to July 17.

Trent Webster, who lives in Howick and attends Durban High School (DHS), and Nicola Mayne, who lives in Wembley and attends Epworth, were selected for the show following rigorous auditions.

Trent, who has performed in The Outsiders, believes it’s important to make the most of every acting opportunity that comes your way.

“This show gives you all the experience you need, and if you don’t enjoy the experience, then you know you don’t actually want to pursue it [an acting career] one day,” he added.

Nicola, who was a narrator in ­Epworth’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat earlier this year, said she auditioned for the Young Performers’ Project “more for the experience of it than ­anything else”.

“The idea was that even if I didn’t get in, I would have gained insight into how a professional audition is run,” she explained. “I also wanted to be able to compare myself to other aspiring performers out there.”

The young actress will be playing Mrs Mayor, the wife of the Mayor of Whoville in Seussical, which is based on the Dr Seuss stories.

Asked what her character was like, she said: “She is a very conservative lady, whose obsession with perfection is often her main priority. She’s very uptight and extremely aware of what people will think of her and her family. She is very different to me in that way because I’m generally a laid-back sort of person, but playing her has been a huge amount of fun.”

Trent, who will be playing the roles of Jungle Animal, Fish and Hunch, said he was loving playing such quirky characters. “They are fun, and I have very wild and funky costumes,” he added.

Seussical is directed by award-winning KickStArt Theatre Company ­director Steven Stead, with sets by ­renowned set designer Greg King. The young performers have also been given a helping hand by choreographer Daisy Spencer, and vocal coach ­Charon Williams-Ros.

Asked what it was like to work with industry professionals of this calibre, Trent said: “It’s amazing. Steven Stead gives such wonderful direction, and you can see why he is at the top. I have always wanted to do a show with him, and I’m so glad that I’m finally in one. Also, Daisy Spencer and Charon Williams-Ros are amazing at what they do.”

Nicola agreed, adding: “Working with a professional team has been a bit of a reality check for me actually, in terms of how much work is required for a professional production.

“There is a huge amount of attention to detail that goes into the work of everyone involved in the team, and while they put 110% into their work, they expect it from everyone in the cast, too. It’s been very different to the level of effort and commitment that is expected in a school production.”

As for why they think projects like this are important, Nicola said: “This project is incredibly beneficial to any young aspiring actor or actress. It is a fantastic experience, in terms of working with a professional team, and other passionate young performers. It gives you a good idea of the demands of showbiz. It is also an excellent platform for exposure as a performer, and experience in time on the stage and in the limelight.”

Both young actors also revealed they had fond memories of the Dr Seuss books. Trent said: “I always remember my parents reading I Green Eggs and Ham to me.”

Nicola added: “I was Dr Seuss’s biggest fan when I was small, and I’m sure I read every one of his books at least three times. I never had a favourite character, although I always did love the Grinch, and the Butter Battle Book was my most favourite Dr. Seuss book.”


HOSTED by the Performing Arts Network of South Africa, Seussical is descibed as a “fantastical, magical musical extravaganza”.

Created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and based on the delightful books of Dr Seuss, the show’s plot

mirrors that of Horton Hears a Who, which centres on Horton the elephant’s endeavours to protect the citizens of Whoville, who live on a speck of dust.

He has also been tasked to guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the careless Lazy Mayzie.

The musical also features characters and scenarios from many other Seuss books, including the Butter Side Uppers/Downers from the Butter Battle Book, and a little boy with a big imagination — Jojo. The musical’s narrator and commentator is The Cat in the Hat.

Showtimes are 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday, on July 8 and July 9, and July 15 and July 16; and 2.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, July 6 to July 10, and July 12 to July 17.

Booking is through Compu­ticket.

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