Ntsika Fana Ngxanga is famous for his killer vocals in local a cappella soul group The Soil. Now he’s musical director of That Night of Trance, a production currently on at the State Theatre, in Pretoria.
The story, written and directed by Ntshieng Mokgoro, follows a teenager named Puleng, who moves to Matatiele, a village in the Eastern Cape - and when Puleng’s spiritual gift awakens things get interesting.
Ngxanga says that he read the play just weeks before rehearsals started, and it took him a fairly short period to come up with an original score.
“I was given the script by writer aus’ Ntshieng Mokgoro. It seemed that as I read each scene, I would immediately get inspiration for a song. I closed the script, went to my home studio and recorded the song,” he said.
By the time he was done, Ngxanga had 12 original songs for the production.
“I got the songs in dreams from my great-great grandfather tatu’mkhulu Mayiza. Even before I got the script from aus’ Ntshieng. When I got it, it felt like a natural and seamless transition from doing commercial-style music, to a more traditional style.
“What was important for the cast to know, was that when they sing the music it must come from a spiritual place, a sincere place, and that’s how the production comes alive every night. Being the musical director on this is one the greatest honours I have had thus far in my musical career,” Ngxanga said.
The production stars Segametsi Gaobepe in the role of Puleng, Rhythm City actress Nomathamsanqa Ngoma as the grandmother, Mohladi Isaac as Rakotsoane the old spirit and Siyasanga Tyacithi as the actress.
Accompanying Ngxanga to bring the music to life is a group of five vocalists, with percussion by Lucky Mahandu. The choreography is by Phuthi Teresa Mojela.
On why audiences should come out in their numbers to experience this spiritual trip themselves, Ngxanga said: “People who are still hesitant to come to the show (because of its subject matter) should just come.
"This is an opportunity to literally hear the voices of our forefathers, what it sounds like when they express themselves through their descendants. “That stage is filled with people who do not walk alone, and who demonstrate it.
"Come and see the magic when people just acknowledge that you do not walk alone, you walk with guardian angels,” he enthused.
That Night of Trance is on at the State Theatre in Pretoria until September 16. Tickets are available from Computicket at R110.