On January 31st this year, the musical The Color Purple premiered in South Africa on The Nelson Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre, with an all South African cast.
The South African production of this Tony and Grammy Award winning musical ‘wowed’ audiences, and for the talented cast members this journey has been a career highlight.
Theatre journalists and audience members raved about the Janice Honeyman helmed production, and due to the public demand for hard-to-come-by tickets, Joburg Theatre and Executive Producer Bernard Jay announced that the show would give thirty-two additional performances during Women’s Month in August of this year. These 31,000 additional tickets are already selling quickly.
As arts journalist Leon Van Nierop stated in his review of the show: “This was a life-changing and sweeping experience that will go down as one of the best and most thought-provoking of the past few years…a brilliant and touching production…This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience…You will never forget it.”
Seventeen of the original twenty cast members signed to reprise their roles, including acclaimed Didintle Khunou as Celie and Aubrey Poo as Mister. Janice Honeyman, Bernard Jay and musical director Rowan Bakker then embarked on another round of auditions to find the three necessary replacement cast members.
Well known actress and vocalist Lelo Ramasimong, who initially played the role of Darlene in The Color Purple, will now be stepping into the leading role of Shug Avery. Lelo created her own fan base during The Color Purple’s first season with her spine-chilling vocalisation of the role of Darlene. Now her fans can’t wait to experience the gutsy, blues singing she will feature as Shug Avery.
After several audition sessions, the creative team identified the three highly talented people to join the cast: Masego Mothibakgomo, Terrence Ngwila and Lebo Borole.
Masego Mothibakgomo takes over the role of Darlene from Lelo Ramasimong. Masego obtained her Bachelors of Arts in Drama from the University of Pretoria. Her theatre work includes roles in Disney’s The Lion King (in which she played Nala and later the storyteller), Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), Alchemy of Desire/Dead man’s Blues directed by Ball State University’s Wendy Saver-Mortimer and Seussical. Masego is also embarking on a career as a singer/songwriter in the commercial music industry.
Terrence Ngwila will be playing the role of Grady. He is trained in American Latin, basic Tango, and Jazz-Ed but he describes himself mostly as a hip-hop and dub-step dancer. Terrence was also trained and awarded an introductory teaching certificate in Jazz-Ed by one of South Africa’s dancers on Broadway, Pinto Ferreira. He was part of the award winning South African ‘soapie’ Generations: the Legacy and worked with Paul Grootboom on The President’s Man. Terrence played the lead in the production 1606, which received an Ovation Award at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in 2015. Other theatre roles include Marikana The Musical, Freedom and Sophiatown – all at The State Theatre in Pretoria.
Lebo Borole also joins the company. Lebo studied drama and performance at the National School of the Arts and continued her studies at the University of Witwatersrand, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree. She has worked as a radio personality at Trans World Radio and performed in an acapella music group called Blacklace. She toured Hong Kong in Disney’s The Lion King as Nala. Lebo was also cast as the lead in the musical Milked Voice and is currently featured in the new musical Tsotsi in Cape Town.
“I continue to be thrilled with the levels of talent displayed by South African artists,” says director Janice Honeyman. “Masego, Terrence and Lebo will fit beautifully into the wonderful family we have brought together on stage for The Color Purple.”
The Color Purple will re-open at The Mandela at Joburg Theatre on August 7th 2018 and will run until September 2nd.
To secure your tickets now before it’s sold-out again, you can call 0861 670 670 or go online at www.joburgtheatre.com – or book in person at Joburg Theatre’s box office. Theatre patrons can also book online and pay at selected Pick n Pay stores.