Local star Alistair Izobell’s new show, ‘Just Me – Net So’, is a celebration of the artist’s life journey and performance career that began when he was just five years old and that later led to him being honoured with a Sir Laurence Olivier Award – British theatre’s most sought after prize.
The show will take place on Saturday December 21 GrandWest Casino’s Grand Arena. All the material in the show will be original. Izobell has written these songs in collaboration with emerging young South African songwriter Aleshia Solomons.
Following hot on the heels of the sold out second instalment of his successful ‘Music Alla Kaap’ production, which saw music legend Percy Sledge grace the Grand Arena stage, and yet another successful run at The Baxter, ‘Just Me – Net So’ strips away all the high kicks and glitter.
PETER TROMP chatted to IZOBELL on the eve of his big moment at the Grand Arena.
What sparked the idea behind ‘Just Me – Net So’?
Truth be told I had made a deal with my musicians and singers at a dinner one night that if they came up with an original song by the next day, I would write an entire new show with just original songs. Well to my shock, stress and surprise Donveno Prins and Aleshia Solomons sent me two original songs the next day. I had to start writing. I also knew it was time to start doing my own work in its entirety after having performed other people’s woirk for over two decades. I am ecstatic that I have crossed over.
What can audiences look forward to with the show?
It is an evening where you definitely get to see a whole other side of me, without all the glitz and glamour. The audience will also get an insight into the work that I have done over the past 27 years, and how I exist in my life. There will be lots of pics (sic) and videos and anecdotes and things you might never have known about me threaded with the original songs.
Since the show chronicles your career in a scaled back manner, how did you go about devising it so it is compelling to a Grand Arena audience?
I think that anything done in the arts industry, and especially stage work – when it is done from a place of truth and honesty, it will resonate on any stage. I am making the stage a bit more intimate than normal and I am looking forward to achieving another milestone in my career by filling the venue with a performance by “n Kaapse Klong!”
In looking back at the past during the conception of the show, which memories and highlights tucked particularly at your heart?
I wrote two songs in particular that really affected me emotionally. One, ‘Mommy’, was for the two incredibly gifted women who work with me, Aleshia Solomons and Edith Plaaitjies. I wanted to write a song about them being mothers (Aleshia recently gave birth, and Edith two years ago) and the unheard conversations mothers have with their unborn children and the life changing experience it is for a woman. It really humbled me to see the effect it had on the musicians and singers and the audience. The other song called ‘Tomorrow Is Another Chance’ is about reflecting on your journey in life and making sure what you did was honourable and worthy of the gift of life we are blessed with. As I listen to the album now it still makes me feel proud and humble, and writing these two songs in particular was an incredibly rewarding process. It all came together through many emotionally charged sessions, “met ‘n paar ‘grond rollende’ lag” (with a few hilarious) moments.
You often declare your pride at being a Capetonian musician. What do you think it is that makes artists from our neck of the woods so unique?
Growing up in the Cape Flats among these melting pots of culture, religion and class, you are exposed to such a magical world that you only understand when you have entered your mid 20’s. Every home around you has a survival energy, and every home celebrates music in some way, whether it be that your grandparents were musicians or in a choir, or your mom or dad still sings in the church choir, or plays an instrument – there in the veins of your existence music lives. “Jy kan net nie weg hardloop van die musiek nie!” (You just can’t run away from the music.) So many people just have a natural, indescribable talent.
When did you realise for the first time that you wanted to become a professional entertainer, and how did you go about realising that dream?
There was not a particular day that I realized I wanted to do this. I just found myself in the industry at a young age in shows like ‘James and The Giant Peach’ and ‘District Six: The Musical’. There was no plan, no realising it. It was by grand design that I have done this wonderful work that I so cherish for almost three decades. And what a rewarding and awesome job and journey it has been.
* Ticket prices range from R120 to R170. Book at Computicket.