Johannesburg audiences are in for a treat when the world premiere of the new and original musical, Calling Me Home takes place on August 17 on The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre.
This is the second world premiere of an original South African production that this theatre is graced with within a month. After the spectacular Big City, Big Dreams, the much-anticipated Calling Me Home is evidence local theatre is alive and well.
Calling Me Home is a powerful love story of hope, courage, longing and compassion that will resonate with people everywhere.
The audience follows the story of Grace, a young woman who flees her homeland due to the outbreak of a civil war and is taken on an exciting journey that stretches from the splendours of the African continent, across the ocean to a great foreign city.
In this new, hugely diverse and colourful community, Grace experiences joy and great danger. She also falls deeply in love and most importantly, learns the true meaning of “home”.
Premiering in Women’s Month, Calling Me Home is a collaboration between two highly creative and powerful women in the South African music and theatre industry.
The book, score and libretto were written by composer and producer Alice Gillham, who is signed with EMI Music Publishing / Sony/ATV. She effortlessly fuses the genres of classical music, African hybrid, jazz and traditional folk song to create evocative music that brings the story to life.
Joining Gillham is celebrated director Magdalene Minnaar. According to Minnaar, this production has the potential to have a profound impact on the world.
“The content is particularly current and we are blessed with incredible talent in South Africa. One rarely gets a chance to be part of a brand new local production of this calibre,” Minnaar says.
Calling Me Home depicts the journeys of three women who each find their own personal power. Grace (Lynelle Kennedy) a young African woman flees her war-torn homeland to try to survive in a country of concrete cityscapes, crime and danger.
Lynelle Kennedy. Picture: Supplied
With her is her new friend Lindiwe (Zolani Mahola), who too has fled her home, but in Lindiwe’s case it is a flight from abuse and pain.
Finally, there is the beautiful but deeply troubled Isabella (Samantha Peo), who finds the strength and courage to conquer almost insurmountable challenges when she overcomes addiction, to take the moral lead in her community.
Samantha Peo. Picture: Supplied
The work is a global story with far-reaching current relevance. According to Minnaar, choosing the right artists was critical as they have the opportunity to bring their characters to life for the first time. “We have carefully chosen hugely talented singers who bring storytelling, creativity and a spirit of adventure to this journey. Their energy is amazing and their talent world-class,” Minnaar says.
The southern African cast consists of some of the country’s most celebrated stage performers, well-known personalities and some up-and-coming young stars. Kennedy, a classically trained soprano, is the rising star of musical theatre in South Africa.
Earlier this year she blew South African audiences away in the role of Maria in The Fugard’s production of West Side Story.Peo has starred in numerous productions from Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cabaret to West Side Story.
Anthony Downing (Rafael) captured the hearts of South African audiences as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera.
“What grabbed my initial interest was the opportunity to work with the phenomenally talented Magdalene Minnaar again, having worked with her on Phantom of The Opera. But even more so, as a creative person myself, to have the chance to create a show right from inception is such an incredible opportunity, one that I couldn’t pass up,” Downing says.
* Calling Me Home is on until September 3. Book online at www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling the Box Office on 0861 670 670 or through Webtickets.