Versatile actress in PE show
After lengthy absence, Dickson ready to wow fans in Music at the Market, writes Zamandulo Malonde
TWENTY-FOUR years since she last performed in Port Elizabeth, South African singer and actress Bethany Dickson returns to perform at the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music at the Market concert next weekend.
This, after she created a name for herself with leading roles in multiple Cape Town musicals with which she has toured the world.
Weekend Post recently caught up with the Sunset Boulevard star.
Q: You were born, raised and studied in Cape Town and still live there. When last were you in Port Elizabeth?
A: I have always been a Cape Town girl but I have always had family I still visit in PE. If my memory serves me right, I last performed in PE at the age of six in the Annie Get Your Gun production that was directed by my aunt Robin Williams and starred my mother, Julie Dickson.
Q: Your first professional gig was when you played Sharpay Evans in the South African ‘High School Musical’ ensemble. How old were you at the time?
A: I was 21 and, while I had done amateur theatre before, this was my first professional musical theatre show which was a great first experience. We travelled to Johannesburg and went all the way to China with that production.
Q: Did coming from a family that is more than familiar with theatre make it any easier for you to become a good performer?
A: It’s always a bit daunting when you do something for yourself for the first time, regardless of how familiar you are with it, so I definitely felt the sense that I was starting from the bottom and I needed to learn my own way.
I had amateur stage experience from singing and dancing in church and doing shows as a child but it was never at the same professional level as when I started High School Musical.
Q: Now that you have done productions like ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Grease’, ‘Singin’ in The Rain’ and more, what differences can you identify between the Bethany in ‘High School Musical’ and the Bethany now?
A: Definitely a sense of knowing what I am doing. I don’t know everything because one is always learning, but I now have a more certain understanding of what is required of a professional theatre performer.
A lot goes into it and it takes a lot of practice. Those are some of the things I may not have fully understood back then.
Q: Of all the productions you have performed in, which one stands out for you and why?
A: Playing Maria in The Sound of Music was a huge bucket list role because not only am I a huge fan of Julie Andrews, but my mom had also played the role of Maria in the same production 15 years earlier. It was incredibly special and insanely scary for me because Julie Andrews is holy ground. You don’t mess around with a role like that.
Which production did you last perform in and what have you been up to since then?
A: My most recent role was Kathy in Singin’ in the Rain with which I travelled all over the world. Lately, I have been focusing on my family, my church involvement and the coffee shop I opened two years ago.
Last year, my husband and I had a baby boy and he’s just brought a whole new way of living. My cup is overflowing.
For the first year and a half of my baby’s life, I did not really want to focus on anything else but I am auditioning for a couple of roles now, so we’ll see how that goes.
Q: How do you feel about coming to perform in PE after so long?
A: I’m very excited. I love PE because I’ve been to visit my family there many times. I’m honoured to have been asked to perform alongside such awesome musicians.
Dickson will perform alongside soloists Charl du Plessis, Asemahle Tsholoba, the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Richard Cock.
Music at the Market will be held from 3pm to 9pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday at the Feather Market Centre. Tickets are R100 to R120 for adults, R70 for pensioners, R50 for pupils and R20 for pre-schoolers at Computicket. Access to the Campanile bells, food trucks and live entertainment at Vuyisile Mini Square is free.
MULTI-TALENTED: Acclaimed musical theatre personality Bethany Dickson