DAVID KRAMER’S NEW MUSICAL AT THE FUGARD
SET IN the 1960s, Langarm is David Kramer’s new musical centred on how much people were willing to do to survive the apartheid laws of the day.
Set in the ballroom dance world, this mix of love and intrigue, backed by dance moves and feisty music, is the storyline that makes it go round.
Due to open at the Fugard Theatre on November 20, presented by Eric Abraham, the drama is the ideal start to the festive season with a cast including Elton Landrew (of the film Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story), with Rushney Ferguson, Cameron Botha, Kim Louis, Pierre Nelson and Julio Jantjies.
Cameron Botha plays the leading role of Jeff, and the young actor who appeared in West Side Story at the Artscape also has considerable experience in dancing his way across the stage in Funny Girl, Sweeney Todd, Calling Us Home and Dirty Dancing.
Botha, who graduated from Tshwane Technical University in 2011, says it’s a challenge to be playing Jeff for several reasons.
“As a white South African I need to explore the heritage of the roles others play on stage. And as a Born Free I didn’t experience actively the horrors of apartheid – only the aftermath.”
But he’s excited and honoured to play Jeff.
As the story unfolds, it’s 1965. When Dinah Levin is widowed, she invites her nephew (Jeff), whose fiancée has dumped him, to help her manage her late husband’s Canterbury Hotel in District Six. There the young man meets ballroom dancer Angelina.
When her partner leaves her in the lurch, she asks Jeff to dance with her in The Swaziland Ballroom Championships.
Aware that he risks arrest if they get caught flouting the law, he throws caution to the wind and agrees.
Botha explains: “It’s Kramer bringing the Jewish side or angle and falling in love with a Coloured girl in District Six. But he’s more ‘ïsh’ than Jewish as he fights against this, bringing passion to the side of
‘langarm’ dancing. So what happens is you get a dance romance that develops into a deep love that has to be clothed in secrecy.”
Jeff decides to rejuvenate the hotel by offering langarm dances. Eddie Jephta is the leader of the Moonlight Serenaders langarm band who comes to play at The Canterbury Hotel, and as he comes onto the scene, Dinah has to confront the secrets of her past.
Cameron Botha and Rushney Ferguson in Langarm. | Fugard Theatre