What we’re about
There’s nothing quite like sitting in an auditorium as the lights dim and you await the opening lines, or overture, of a live performance. The conductor takes his place at the podium, the actors enter, the technicians (God bless them) have their fingers hovering over cue buttons and, soon, a collective experience is realised as the audience becomes engrossed by the action.
Today we have the pleasure of large scale musicals that come our way by means of Broadway and The West End after years of research and development, with big bucks behind these efforts.
At its core, though, is still the old age tradition of storytelling.
Our Stories series creates a platform for local writers to showcase works at the beginning of the writing process; before helicopters (Miss Saigon) or chandeliers (Phantom) blew budgets out the water. We invite the audience to come along for the ride and witness exciting new material by the country’s leading musical theatre creatives.
Stories 2020 is a collective of dramaturgs, composers and lyricists who started a songwriting circle during South Africa’s COVID hard lockdown. On a regular basis the group met over Zoom presenting new songs, works in development, considered aspects of the craft and challenges relating to new writing; all with the goal of hosting a songwriting showcase in December of 2020.
We invite all those who crave theatre to come and enjoy our very first offering. You may be witness to the birth of South Africa’s next big spectacular musical, or an intimate chamber work that pulls dearly on our collective heart strings.
The event will be hosted at Seabrooks Theatre (in Durban) on 13 December, at 11:30am. A group of four singers will present the material with live piano accompaniment in a one act, 70 minute format. Tickets available at R50 and booked through Sophie Thompson of Publicity Matters, on whatsapp: 083 609 8729.
Join us and be part of the journey.
Jaco Griessel is a Cape-Town based musician and theatre-maker. He holds a Masters-degree in Music and a Diploma in Theatre-making, both obtained at the University of the Free State. At the Odeion School of Music, Jaco studied composition, arranging and orchestration under the tutelage of internationally renowned jazz musician and composer Noel Stockton for five years.
Following his studies Jaco found musical theatre the most logical path to pursue as it combined his skill set. Jaco has been involved in numerous theatre productions since 2008, working as producer, music director, pianist, guitarist or production designer and has worked with some of South Africa’s most acclaimed producers and directors. Jaco has always had an interested in writing original work for musical theatre but has never found an appropriate avenue for his writing work. He feels very privileged to be part of this wonderful initiative which can give a platform to the writing of South African Musical theatre writers.
Marcel trained in acting at the Pro Arte High School and obtained his B-Tech Degree (Cum Laude) in Musical Theatre from the Pretoria Technicon majoring in acting and directing/choreography. Since graduating, Marcel has played leading roles in several plays by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams to acclaim on stages across South Africa, Europe and the USA. Marcel has created music and lyrics for several original South African musicals. These include Bangbroek Mountain and In Briefs.
THEATRE CREDITS include: Williams Shakespeare’s Hamlet [Hamlet], Macbeth [Macbeth], Othello [Iago], Romeo & Juliet [Romeo], Richard III [Richard III], A Midsummer Night’s Dream [Oberon/Theseus], Antony & Cleopatra [Octavian Caesar], Much Ado About Nothing [Don John], Shakespeare’s R&J [Romeo], Dame Janet Suzman’s Hamlet [Rosencrantz]; Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie [Gentleman Caller], The Night of the Iguana [Reverend Shannon], In the bar of a Tokyo Hotel [Mark], Sweet Bird of Youth [Chance Wayne], Kingdom of Earth, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, The Day on Which A Man Dies, One Arm, The Hotel Plays; Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins [John Wilkes Booth]; Noël Coward’s Private Lives [Elyot] and Present Laughter [Morris]; Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms, Yukio Mishima’s The Lady Aoi, Mark Ravenhill’s Over There as well as Captain Hook in Peter Pan and King Neptune in The Little Mermaid.
AWARDS: Eight Fleur du Cap nominations for Best Costume design, winning the 2011 award for Richard III and the 2019 Naledi Award for Best Costume Design for Macbeth, St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards nominations for Best Set and Best Costume Design for Tennessee Williams’ Stairs to the Roof. 2019 Best Actor Naledi nomination for his performance in Macbeth. This year Marcel also picked up a Fleur du Cap Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance of the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.
Wessel Odendaal has extensive experience in musical theatre both as musical director and as producer. He is the co-owner of VR Theatrical which has brought many theatre pieces to South African stages over the past 5 years. Wessel’s love for musical theatre developed as he worked on many international productions such as Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, The Sound of Music, Avenue Q and The Lion King to mention but a few.
After completing his BMus at the University of Pretoria, Wessel ventured into arranging and composition. He has mainly composed for theatre productions including music for ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Little Prince – A Mini-Musical’ and many more. Wessel is a firm believer that music should support the text as we are essentially in the business of story-telling. Wessel is a collaborator and prefers to co-write with lyricist who has a great affinity for the written and spoken word.
Leah Mari (19 years old, Durban) has been composing music since she was 11 years old. What started with a small passion for playing the piano and singing her own original music, lead to the release of her EP of original songs in 2016 and later, her enrollment at Wits University studying a Bachelor of Music.
Leah is an ACT DALRO scholarship recipient in the category of Musical Theatre (2019). She was also a part of the Young Performers Project from 2015 – 2019 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
Now, about to take on a 3 year enrollment at LAMTA (Cape Town), Leah is excited to venture further into both Musical Theatre performance and composition!
Roland Perold is a musician, performer and songwriter who found his way to the stage after appearing in the Playhouse productions of The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady in the early 2000’s. Moving to Cape Town, Roland produced small scale book musicals and in 2012 decided to venture into original writing which led him to a MMus degree in Songwriting at Bath Spa University, UK.
Since returning he has written four chamber musicals which were produced in Cape Town and at the National Arts Festival. During lockdown Roland started a collaboration project involving five local musical theatre writers from Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The first showcase of these songs will be presented in Durban at a once off event in December called: “Stories 2020”. The process of collaboration has brought a great sense of community and encouragement to the writers involved who have met online once a month to share new material and ideas. It is hoped that other writers will join the collaboration and for the showcase to become an annual event.
Music and stories have been an immense passion and calling for Luca her whole life. From starting the violin at age 7, and studying Music Technology (Cum Laude) at the University of Stellenbosch, to performing as a successful musician across the world. She started writing her own music at the age of 10, and went on to manage her own band at 14, performing only original music. She currently dabbles in electronic music production, combining the violin sounds with the power of electronic synthesizers, and makes her own short films incorporating nature and the environment to tell beautiful stories.
Luca loves the simplicity and tenderness with which a theatre song can have a deep impact on an audience – not needing bells and whistles to bring a message across (vs pop music), and she’s excited to be a part of that creative and impactful process, hoping to reach people’s hearts and minds through sensitive storytelling.
Having performed in some of South Africa’s most popular musicals, Anthony has developed a reputable name in the musical theatre industry. He is an experienced singer, actor, pianist, and composer with a BMUS degree in classical singing and composition from the University of Cape Town. Theatre credits include Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Show, Raoul in the World Tour of The Phantom of the Opera (winning the Philippines BWW award for best featured actor), Jake in Show Boat, Gad in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Rafael in the home grown musical, Calling Me Home. While living in the UK, Anthony played Prince Charming in Cinderella and was a singer for the UK classical crossover group, The Phantastics.
In composition, Anthony’s music is a clear extension of his interest in musical theatre and cinema. He won the Meyer Levinson prize for best original composition (Cello Sonatina) and later went on to conducting his own orchestral adaption of Shakespeare’s “Give me my robe, put on my crown” performed by soloist, Goitsemang Lehobye, at the Baxter Concert Hall in Cape Town. He has been involved with the KZNPO on a few occasions where they played two of his works, Spring and Overture Fantasy. For screen, Anthony worked on the documentary, Trouble In Lemur Land, as well as recently writing the score for the feature film, Rare Blood.