Back home on a whirlwind
Extravaganza is a great coming-of-age gift, says musical director Janine Neethling says
RTSCAPE 10 is a star-studded extravaganza of cultural entertainment featuring Sibongile Khumalo, Madosini, Emo Adams, Cape Town Opera, the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and more.
The one-night-only cornucopia of performing arts celebrates a decade since the launch of the new name of the Western Cape’s performing arts council, which was formed in 1969, and the multi-venue arts house bearing the same name.
It is also a showcase of the new opera house in the Artscape complex as well as a celebration of the many performance disciplines it caters for.
Consider that Artscape that is home to Cape Town City Ballet, the CPO and Voices of the Nation (Cape Town Opera), and is a second home to countless theatre and musical performers, as well as the new locale for the Zip Zap Circus and the driving force behind a vibrant series of community outreach programmes, and the mammoth task of presenting this all over one night becomes clear.
The honours fall to director Paul Warwick Griffin, musical director Janine Neethling and CPO conductor Richard Cock.
Janine Neethling is about to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town and is wrestling with piecing together what is arguable the city’s greatest multi-genre event, getting herself and her companions on the plane, and a sinus problem.
It’s not really like talking to a person – although she’s bright, engaged, warm and very funny – it’s more like trying to grasp a whirlwind.
“The secret is in the artists, in the line-up,” she says. “For example, we are representing the outreach programmes that fall under Cape Town City Ballet, and will see them performing with children and doing the polonaise. It’s about that kind of cross-pollination – putting Jazzart together with CT Ballet, something that hasn’t happened in years, I believe.”
She goes on: “We are very fortunate to have two legends, Sibongile Khumalo and Sibongile Mngoma, who are among the very few perfor mers who can do both jazz and classical. Because of their control and technique, they can do anything from the aria to South African jazz, and that’s rather nice to be able to work with.”
She mentions more of the artists, and how their pieces will meet the over-arching vision of cross-pollination: Tina Schouw and Womantide; Emo Adams and the Zip Zap Circus with an unaccompanied cello doing a Bach solo; a multi-choir take on The Mission, the Jikeleza Ballet Group, the Umtyityimbo Group doing traditional Xhosa dancing; André Schwartz and Laurika Rauch…
“Artscape is home to all these art forms, and when we present them we don’t say that they exist separately,” Neethling says. “For example, we have kudu horns and a praise poet, and then the poet is greeted by a ballerina who ritualistically takes him into her world. Being able to dream these things up… it’s one of the biggest highlights of my year.”
She adds: “I watched my first theatre performances in what is now Artscape. I did ballet there as a kid and did my first professional performance there. Now, I’m about 40 and going grey, and they say life starts then; that everything before that is just a preparation. This feels like a great coming-of-age present.”
Neethling has been musical director on shows ranging from Queen at the Opera and The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Boy Meets Boy, and composed music for television ( Soutmansland, The Wedding Show) and stage ( Birdy, Death of a Salesman), winning the KKNK Kanna Award for Elzabé Zietsman’s Agter Glas, as well as producing almost a dozen music albums and winning Geraas best album of the year awards for Amanda Strydom’s Op ’n Klein Blou Ghoen (2002) and Verspreide Donderbuie (2003). She performed a crossover recital with Sibongile Khumalo for Madiba’s 85th birthday celebrations. Next year’s projects include an a cappella show of the The Messiah and working with Standard Bank Young Artist Of The Year (dance) previous winner Dada Masilo.
Artscape 10 is on tomorrow night for one night only at Artscape. Also featured are Latosi ”Madosini” Mphahleni, Vadhini Indian Arts Academy and African Chord Melodies. Tickets are R100 and R150 from 021 421 7695, Computicket on 083 915 8000, Shoprite and Checkers.
NON-STOP: Janine Neethling has a mammoth job piecing together the multi-genre event.