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Vibrant young cast are stars of tomorrow

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TO NDR Footloose Review 2

Paulo Menezes

KICKING OFF: The cast of Footloose, led by Rendani Mufamadi (centre, bandaged hand), in a scene from the high-energy musical.

FOOTLOOSE

DIRECTOR: Themi Venturas

CAST: A cast of 41 plus live band

VENUE: The UKZN Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre

UNTIL: July 13

RATING: ***

THE annual Young Performers Production, Footloose, has once again proved that Durban is certainly not short of emerging talent.

Presented by The Performing Arts Network of South Africa (Pansa) in KZN, the KZN Department of Arts and Culture and Rainbow: RCL Foods, The Young Performers Project affords high school pupils the opportunity to work in a professional musical theatre arena with professionals in the industry.

This year Footloose was the selected showcase for the youth to perform. The Broadway stage hit and popular dance film is centred on the theme of young people searching for freedom from societal constraints.

A young city slicker, Ren (Rendani Mufamadi), moves to a quiet town with his mother, partly angry at the world after his father abandoned them and mostly rebelling against any form of authority.

His rebellious ways don’t sit well with the local Reverend Shaw (Bradley Shaw), the town council and basically all the adults who see him as a threat to their law formulated to prevent young people from dancing and engaging in any revelry.

But Ren, who just can’t keep still, is determined to change things in a big way in this little town.

The great thing about using a production like Footloose for the Young Performers Project is that it’s such a youthful production and the adolescent cast (including the live band, which also includes young musicians) really have their moment to shine.

Director Themi Venturas, choreographer Daisy Spencer and musical director Luke Holder have also done a great job of putting a South African spin on this story.

From the music to the characters’ lingo to the dance moves, local elements have been woven into the storyline to make it more relevant to our audiences. For example, during a club scene elements of South African house music could be heard, with S’fundo Ndimande (who plays DJ Bob) showing off his skills. In a number of dance scenes elements of local dance trends like Micasa’s Jika or pantsula moves are incorporated into the choreography.

The young cast was not short of talent in their song and dance, rising to the occasion.

That said, special mention has to be made of Mufamadi, who excels in his singing, dancing and rapping. I also suspected he had a natural flair for comedy and was proven correct when I later learned that he’s actually also dabbled in stand-up comedy.

Joshua Arnold (who plays Ren’s ditsy and highly comical friend, Willem Prins) is a scream and really sinks into his character. Phindile Dube (who plays Rusty) is certainly one to keep an eye out for. She has a beautiful voice and performs well on stage. Bradley Marshall, the professional in the cast, is also an amazing musical performer.

In a previous interview with Tonight Venturas mentioned that the Young Performers Project had produced an amazing array of successes who are involved in national and international careers. “I’m not saying it’s been the project that has created their success, I’m saying the project was certainly a catalyst for these people to know if this is what they really wanted to do and if they can cut it,” he said at the time.

I have no doubt that we will one day be naming some of these cast members as the stars who were once Rainbow Young Performers.

• Booking is through Computicket.


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