David Kramer's much-anticipated new musical centred around how much people were willing to do to survive the apartheid laws of the day.
Set in the 1960s ballroom dance world, "Langarm" is this heady mix of love and intrigue, backed by fabulous dance moves and feisty music, is the storyline that makes it all go round.
Due to open at the Fugard Theatre on November 20, presented by Eric Abraham, the drama is the ideal start to the festive season with an all-star cast including Elton Landrew (starring in the emotional film "Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies story), along with Rushney Ferguson, Cameron Botha, Kim Louis, Pierre Nelson and Julio Jantjies.
Cameron Botha plays the leading role of Jeff and the young actor who appeared in West Side Story at the Artscape also has considerable experience in dancing his way across the stage in Funny Girl, Sweeney Todd and Calling Us Home and Dirty Dancing. Botha, who graduated from Tshwane Technical Unviersity in 2011, admits that it's a challenging role to be playing Jeff for several reasons.
"As a white South African I need to explore the heritage of the roles others play on stage. And as a Born Free I also didn't experience actively the horrors of apartheid - only the aftermath."
But he's excited and honoured to play the role of a Jeff.
As the story on stage unfolds, it's 1965. When Dinah Levin is widowed, she invites her nephew (Jeff), whose fiancé has just dumped him, to help her manage her late husband’s Canterbury Hotel in District Six. There the young man meets ballroom dancer Angelina. When her partner leaves her in the lurch, she asks Jeff to dance with her in The Swaziland Ballroom Championships.
Much aware that he risks arrest if they get caught flouting the law, he throws caution to the wind and agrees.
Botha explains: "It's Kramer bringing the Jewish side or angle and falling in love with a Coloured girl in District Six. But he's more "ïsh" than Jewish as he fights against this, bringing passion to the side of Langarm dancing.
"So what happens is you get a dance romance that develops into a deep love but ... that has to be clothed in secrecy."
As the story continues, Jeff decides to rejuvenate the hotel by offering langarm dances. Eddie Jephta is the leader of the Moonlight Serenaders langarm band who comes to play at The Canterbury Hotel, and as he comes onto the scene, Dinah has to confront the secrets of her past.
Botha adds, "I have really gained a new perspective playing that role, heightened of course, of what the stakes would be... "
Rushney Ferguson, also no stranger to The Fugard Theatre stage having performed in the hit musicals King Kong and District Six: Kanala, steps in to the role of Angelina while Kim Louis returns to the stage and plays hotel owner Dinah Levin.
Interestingly, "Langarm" reunites Louis with Kramer after almost 20 years, when she performed in Kat and the Kings on Broadway. And Landrew who plays Jephta, originally played Young Kat Diamond in the David Kramer and Taliep Petersen musical Kat and the Kings, touring Germany and Austria as well as the Tricycle Theatre in London.
Comments Kramer “We have brought together some of SA’s most established stage performers with the country’s phenomenal rising talent,” says David Kramer. “It is going to be magical.”
"Langarm" will be performed at The Fugard Theatre from November 20 from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm with a matinee performance on Saturdays at 3pm. From Sunday December 16, there will be an additional Sunday matinee at 3pm. There will be a Monday night performance at 8pm on New Year’s Eve, December 31 also at 8pm.
Tickets ranging from R150 to R260 can be booked through The Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554 or through The Fugard Theatre’s website at www.thefugard.com.