Getting “the right shift at the right time” has led to a dream theatre debut for Gardens actor Sanda Shandu.
Sanda is currently on stage in David Kramer’s newest musical Orpheus in Africa at the Fugard Theatre.
The former waiter got his role as Richard Collins after serving David at the theatrical dining restaurant Stardust.
“He managed to get my contact details after he saw me performing. Then a coffee date and an audition later, here I am.”
Sanda explains that Orpheus in Africa tells the true story of the group of black American Jubilee Singers who toured Queen Victoria’s colonies towards the end of the 19th century. They also visited South Africa on their world tour.
“This story deals with themes of identity, upliftment politics, racism and transformation.”
Sanda’s character Richard is Orpheus’s naughty and rebellious cousin who he describes as the wildcard amongst the Jubilee Singers. “Not being as conservative as the others, his habits tend to get him into a couple of tight spots.”
Working with David has been a “fruitful” experience for Sanda, who says the humble legend has a great approach to his work and allows room for actors to explore and contribute to the script.
“The man ain’t shy to crack some good jokes too, so it’s hard not being happy!”
He’s equally excited about working with the rest of the production’s actors, including Aubrey Poo (Muvhango, Scandal, The Wild, Rent, Dreamgirls) and Lynelle Kenned (West Side Story, Blood Brothers, Showboat).
“They seem to have a knack of getting the best out of you.”
Orpheus in Africa has been at the Fugard since September and Sanda counts an unfortunate highlight amongst his highlights of the run. He accidently spilt a drink on an audience member during a scene and says it was the first time he got to truly understand the phrase “the show must go on”.
While Sanda hopes to follow up his theatre debut with some film work, he says: “I’ve been bitten by the theatre bug.”
Sanda will be on stage at the Fugard Theatre in Orpheus in Africa until 9 January.