Meet the other star of 'Aunty Merle - It’s a Girl!'
Meet the talented, tenacious Tashreeq De Villiers.
The 29-year-old performer is currently on stage playing a double role in Marc Lottering’s "Aunty Merle - It’s a Girl!" De Villiers plays the naughty Ben 10 character, Glen Davids as well as the hilarious Pastor Jansen.
“I had to do some research for the pastor role by watching some church-type videos online to see how the priests do it," said De Villiers.
The multi-talented entertainer started dancing as a drum major at the annual Cape Town Minstrel Carnival from the age of six. He soon became a juvenile solo singer raking in many 1st prize trophies for various Klopse teams and Malay choirs.
At the same time he featured on the TV show Joltyd, with the legend Taliep Petersen. Tashreeq went on to become a comic-song singer and writer for the annual Klopse and Malay Choir events. He is often referred to as "The Comic Champion".
“I was born and raised in Woodstock and I recently moved to Wynberg.”
“It was in Woodstock where it all began for me; I was a voorloepertjie for Woodstock Starlights from 6-years-old.” My uncle had a Minstrel Team and they needed a drum major and I was so ready and jumped at the chance,” he added.
De Villiers was also an avid singer at his school concerts at Rahmania Primary School in District 6. It was here where someone spotted him and the next year he was asked to sing at the Annual Coon Carnival as a Juvenile Sentimentalist.
“I sang in the Juvenile Section until I reached my teens and sadly I could not continue singing in this category. At the time the City reconstructed the Green Point Stadium for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and this was my favourite venue to show off my skills.
“I was only 15-years-old then and I wasn’t prepared to sing against the likes of Loukmaan Adams,” said De Villiers.
De Villiers was quite heartbroken that he could no longer compete and kept himself busy doing live shows to keep his singing going. He then decided to take a break and in 2011 he returned as a comic singer and it was during this time when he was spotted and offered a role in the musical Satin to Sequins.
An elated De Villiers says theatre saved his life. “During the time when I was heartbroken about not being able to compete with the coons, I went looking for solace and ended up with the wrong crowd and doing the wrong things.
“I am the youngest of five children, I come from a broken home, my void was filled doing the klopse and then the city threw down the stadium coupled with me not being able to perform as a juvenile made me search for something else to fill my empty space.
“I then found myself on the street corners, with the wrong crowd, doing the wrong things, but then theatre saved my life.”
“Today those guys I used to befriend in a gang have huge respect for me; they even come see me perform. I love the stage; the theatre is my safe space,” says the energetic thespian.
From 2014 to 2018, De Villiers starred in the musical Satin to Sequins as Rowan, staged at the Baxter Theatre as well as Aunty Merle, The Musical and last year in David Kramer’s Danger in the Dark as Lucky.
“Satin to Sequins gave me the platform to enhance my formal stage career”, I have no formal performance training. I have natural talent that was grown on a stage at the Coon Carnivals.
"I got nurtured by the likes of David Kramer and Lara Foot. Their guidance simply brings out the best in me”. How is it to work so closely with comedian Marc Lottering?
“It is so much fun working with Marc and a huge learning curve for me, he is so knowledgeable in this field and it is easy to learn from him and we just have a jol, we laugh so much on stage and of stage” said De Villiers.
The king of comedy Marc Lottering who plays the favourite Aunty Merle said: “Tashreeq is an absolute gem to work with and I’m so glad that we found him. He is certainly one of the rising stars; his got everything he needs to make it in the business. His a fast learner, coupled with his singing, dancing and now acting talent he will indeed go far. I would not hesitate working with him again”.
De Villiers is currently completing his first solo album, singing and rapping as well as preparing for his TDV life story in the form of a one-man show ‘n Bitjie van Alles. And after that, is there anything else the talented Tashreeq would like to still do?
“I would love to expand my performance abilities to the small or big screen,” said De Villiers.
Encouraged by the overwhelming demand for tickets, AUNTY MERLE - IT’S A GIRL has extended its season at the Baxter Theatre until February 29, 2020.