Maestro gives new life to State Theatre

2000-09-28 12:34

Johannesburg - Chris Lodewyk and Raziek Rajah have firm confidence in the arts and entertainment and in their Pretoria supporters. Their upcoming programme for the State Theatre bears witness to this.

As did the Gigs Galaxy when it recently invaded Théêtre Rendezvous with a series of cabarets, the pairÆs Maestro Enterprises challenges the Arts and Culture ministry's closure of the State Theatre with a full programme stretching into the new year - keeping the theatre's doors open in spite of the minister's dictate.

Lodewyk and Rajah recently called a media conference in the State Theatre to outline their plans for the rest of the year. No stage plays, whether in English or Afrikaans, nor any opera feature in their plans. Their accent is on performances, such as variété, musicals and Christmas programmes, which will ensure a box office success - unavoidable in the current situation.

Ahead of Maestro's two gala concerts in the Opera, a "tea party" has been organised for 1 November. This promises to be a day of fun starting at 10:00 and ending at 21:00, followed by the first Carols by Candlelight of the Christmas period.

Visitors will have the opportunity of sitting in on rehearsals and exploring back stage. There will also be music, street performances and food stalls, until the Christmas lights on the Christmas tree are lit. Tickets are R20 each, and include refreshments and drinks in the theatre.

The Presidential Gala Concert has been devised on the same lines as London's Royal Variety Show - with excerpts from operas, ballet and contemporary dance productions and orchestral music.

Graham Scott will lead an orchestra of 45 members, Mathilda Hornsveld will direct the recently established Independent Opera Chorus (IOC) and Esther Nasser choreographed former State Theatre Ballet and Dance company members who have not yet left the country.

Among the artists participating in the variety concert are Karen Beukes, Mimi Coertse, Iain MacDonald, Angela Malan, Jannie Moolman, Sibongile Ngoma, Melody Putu and Vicky Sampson. Tickets for this gala concert in the Opera are R250 for Friday 3 November and R150 for Saturday 4 November.

Two musicals from Durban will also be performed.

Mbongeni Ngema's The Zulu (The Battle of Isandlwana: The Epic Story of King Cetshwayo Ka Mpande) opens on 10 November. When this musical was staged in the Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg at the end of last year it was so popular the season was extended until April this year.

Following a successful season in Germany, The Zulu is back in Gauteng. Tickets sell at R65 and R110 and the season ends on 19 November.

The other production is It's Not Where You Start... and will be performed from 1 December to 2 January by the Waterfront Theatre Company from Cape Town. The musical is a compilation of excerpts from well-known Broadway and West End productions and boasts a cast of 40 singers and dancers, directed by Keith Galloway. Guest artists are Dion Bischoff and Tony Fletcher. Tickets are between R85 and R110.

The Christmas season starts on 1 December with a new production of the evergreen The Nutcracker. Three top State Theatre Ballet soloists - Karen Beukes, Iain MacDonald and Angela Malan - will exchange their points for the choreographer's chair and Esther Nasser, former director for the State Theatre Dance company, returns in a more classical field of action. The season in the Opera will end on 16 December and tickets are between R65 and R150. Tickets for the gala concert on December are R160.

As customary, Mimi Coertse once again invites choirs and soloists to join her for her Christmas with Mimi on 26 November in the Opera.

A longstanding State Theatre tradition will be revived when the IOC, led by Hornsveld, present four performances of The Singing Christmas Tree. Two performances will be given on two successive Sundays, on 10 and 17 December.

Tickets for the two Christmas concerts are R85.

Tickets for all performances are currently available from Computicket or through Teletix at (012) 326 4684, or (011) 3340 8000.

Enquiries and block bookings (reduced rates) can be done through Rosa Vasco at (012) 322 1665.