Find the perfect dress for every occasion...
Amambazo: The Musical, the stage production that will tell the story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s (LBM) contribution towards the freedom of the country from apartheid, was launched in Durban at the weekend.
A cast of 24 professionals and acting newcomers will stage the musical to the live accompaniment of isicathamiya and Afro-jazz music.
At least that’s what it seemed like at the launch when the cast performed a well-received dedication to LBM, who also attended.
Organisers at the briefing said that during apartheid LBM sang songs of hope using their unique African a capella to deliver a message of love and unity.
Their music went on to gain international appeal, which led to collaborations with the likes of Paul Simon and Dolly Parton.
LBM’s story will now be told through this musical, which was created by Professor Joseph Shabalala (who also leads LBM), written and directed by the acclaimed playwright Edmund Mhlongo, and is executive-produced by Xolani Majozi.
Tonight spoke to Mhlongo about the production, and he said that while working on it was a great honour, the job came with high expectations.
“The challenge has been trying to match the established artists with the upcoming artists. We push them because this is Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Grammy Award-winning artists, so that’s the level they must aspire to,” he explained, saying the sound of the musical would be a mix of isicathamiya, Afro-jazz, and Maskandi, “…a taste of KZN music”.
Mhlongo reiterated that it was important that the audience knew the musical was not about the group itself: “It’s not just the story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but the story of the journey to freedom in South Africa and Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s contribution to this, through their music.”
The cast have been rehearsing for three months from 8am to 10pm daily, and judging by what they showcased at the launch, the hard work has paid off.
“We have to achieve that balance between the combination of good music and emotion on stage. It’s going to surprise a lot of people because what we’re trying to do has never been done before,” said Mhlongo.
Shabalala was pleased with what he saw. He said it was “amazing” for the group to be honoured in their home and that they never expected their “farm music” to have such an impact on the mainstream.
Commenting on the performance of the cast, he said: “It was just like they knew what I was thinking about. They have shown respect for us.”
Majozi said the new generation could not offer Ladysmith Black Mambazo a Grammy, but it could put together the best musical in the history of the country.
“Their story is a South African story, there’s a sense of belonging with it, theirs is not just the Ladysmith Black Mambazo story but a South African story,” he said.
Amambazo: The Musical opens on October 10 at The Playhouse, goes to Pretoria’s State Theatre in April and May and travels to the Edinburgh Festival in August.
“We want to follow in the footsteps of Ladysmith Black Mambazo by creating a legacy with this production,” said Majozi.
Tickets will soon be on sale for the Playhouse run at Computicket, from R120. There will be special shows for schools.