‘Orpheus in Africa’, presented by Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre, opens on January 28, telling the little known story of the American impresario Orpheus McAdoo and his African-American Virginia Jubilee Singers, who visited South Africa in the 1890s. Their tour began in Scotland where Orpheus met Lady Loch – the wife of the British Governor of the Cape – who invited them to Cape Town. It was here some 125 years ago that the Jubilee Singers became an unlikely overnight sensation.
With South African star tenor Aubrey Poo (‘Muvhango’, ‘Scandal’, ‘The Wild’, ‘Rent’, ‘Dreamgirls’) in the lead role, David Kramer’s new young company will recreate the unique vocal style of that period, singing many of the well known jubilee spirituals, such as – ‘Roll Jordan Roll’, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’, ‘The Gospel Train’ and ‘Down By The Riverside’ as well as a number of new works Kramer has specially composed. Orpheus’s fiancé, Mattie Allen, is played by Lynelle Kenned (‘Blood Brothers’, ‘Showboat’, ‘Poskantoor’); Jill Levenberg plays Lucy Moten, and Zolani Shangase (‘The Rocky Horror Show’) plays Eugene McAdoo. The talented cast also includes Gideon Lombard, Godfrey Johnson, Graham Bourne, Bianca Flanders, Sanda Shandu, Dean Balie, Grant Peres, Edith Plaatjies, Sne Dladla and Katlego Moncho.
David Kramer directs with a team that includes set designer Saul Radomsky (‘District Six – the Musical’ at the Baxter Theatre and the Olivier award-winning ‘Kat and the Kings’ in London and New York), costume designer Birrie le Roux (‘Fiela se Kind’, ‘Paljas’, ‘Showboat’, ‘Boys in the Photograph’), choir master Alistair Izobell (‘Kat and the Kings’ and ‘Blood Brothers’ at the Fugard Theatre) and music director and arranger Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (‘The Rocky Horror Show’ and ‘Cabaret’ at The Fugard).
‘Orpheus in Africa’ is produced by Eric Abraham, Renaye Kramer and Daniel Galloway and runs until February 22.
* Tickets cost from R130 to R220 per person via the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554; or visit www.computicket.com.