Believe In The Magic

Director: Nkoto Malebye

Musical Director: Rostislava Pashkevitch

Choreographer: Sidney Agnew

Cast: Joanna Abatzoglou, Jessica Brown, Nwabisa Kali, Matthew Berry, Kent Jeycocke, Msize Njapha, Zolani Shangase, Michael Riff Temba, Tshepiso Leta, Kealeboga Tshenye, Kristoffer Greyling and ensemble.

Venue: Breytenbach Theatre

Until: April 28

Rating: ***

The Dance and Musical Theatre department of Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) boasts new staff and this musical revue is the first production by them as well as being the first for the year.

Directed by TUT alumna and part-time lecturer Nkoto Malebye, this forms part of her masters study on how different students from various backgrounds interpret musical theatre. An amazing singer and lead vocalist for the afro-urban renaissance band, Kwani Experience, she works closely with playwright, poet and director, Napo Masheane on her musical shows.

Malebye has also acted in the award-winning play Brer Rabbit and she nails this specific study by presenting a variety of musicals for the students to work with, which help in identifying and revealing their strengths and weaknesses for future productions. She is assisted by colleagues, Josias Moleele, Sidney Agnew and Rostislava Pashkevitch.

The Believe In The Magic narrative follows young and aspiring performers in their quest to be chosen for a big musical show.

It explores all facets of making the grade as a professional performer in the cut-throat industry of the performing arts – a reality the students will soon experience for themselves.

This, together with hit numbers from some great musicals such as A Chorus Line, Hairspray, Ragtime, The Life, The Wild Party, The Lion King and Sarafina make this a fun show.

There’s bountiful comedy juxtaposed with moving poetry.

The students outdo themselves and there are lovely renditions of songs such as Viper’s Drag (Ain’t Misbehavin), Use What You Got (The Life), Isislilo, Buenos Aires (Evita), Raise The Roof (The Wild Party) to the Sondheim Medley and Miriam Makeba’s Lakutshona I Langa.

There are some numbers which could be improved and this has plenty to do with assigning the right song to the right voice. But the students and the new staff are just getting to know each other, so this will, no doubt, get better in the future. The sound problems experienced on opening night made it hard to hear some songs, as the music tended to overshadow the vocals, but this can be fixed.

It is a rare and nostalgic thing to see renditions of scenes from Sarafina and it was joyous to see the students having fun with it, but the choreography could be a little more synchronised and less sloppy.

Regardless of a few easily fixed problems, the show is entertaining and fun, and you get to walk away with a little bit of magic.