Young artists from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas (USA) will collaborate with the very talented singers of the Nelson Mandela University for the second time in Port Elizabeth to create an exciting and fun-filled evening of entertainment from the “Golden Age of Musicals” from 20 – 23 June 2019, at the Savoy Theatre.
The production is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC. Set in the South Pacific Islands close to the end of World War II, the show was chosen for its historical, educational, and social lessons at a time of great world stress and commitment.
SOUTH PACIFIC, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score is considered to be one of the greatest Broadway musicals and is the only musical production to have won all four Tony Awards for acting. It tells the story of an American nurse, Ensign Nellie Forbush, stationed at a U.S. Naval base on a French island in the South Pacific during World War II, who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner, but struggles to accept his mixed-race children and his former relationship with his now deceased Polynesian wife. A second romance concerns a U.S. Marine Lieutenant who falls in love with a young Polynesian girl from the islands. The issues of racial prejudice and intermarriage are candidly explored throughout the musical, which was first performed in April 1949.
Since 2000, Barbara Hill Moore has given full bursaries to twenty South African singers to come to America for advanced study. Among the singers she has brought to America are Dr. Bronwen Forbay, Lionel Mkhwanazi (presently on the UKZN faculty), Professor Patrick Tikolo, Chair of Voice at UCT, Mhlaba Buthelezi presently teaching on the faculty at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, Dr. Conroy Cupido, Chair of Voice at North-West University in Potchefstroom, Dr. Christiaan Bester, Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, Maria Jooste, Lucretia Geswint Sikwebu, Otto Maidi, Phandulwazi Maseti, Selby Hlangu, Thandulwazi Ncube and many others, singing and teaching in South Africa and throughout the world. The last graduate, Ndumiso Nyoka, is presently singing with the St. Louis Opera Summer program and will begin doctoral study at the University of Oklahoma in August. All are successful, professionally admirable young artists, who are creating, producing and performing professionally in their communities every day.
The collaborative efforts between SMU and Nelson Mandela University began in 2001. At that time, Professor Barbara Hill Moore came to Port Elizabeth with the intention of identifying an exceptional singer wishing to study in America through her colleague, Lionel van Zyl. On this occasion, she worked with Lucretia Geswint Sikwebu, a student of van Zyl’s and in 2002, offered Lucretia a full bursary for two years of study in Dallas. Lucretia earned the Artist Certificate. Since then, Professor Hill Moore has worked with singers and faculty (many her own former students) throughout the country. In 2005, she brought a group of 22 singers to South Africa to mount a collaborative concert version of Porgy and Bess that the singers performed with students of UKZN, University of Cape Town Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Tshwane University of Technology, and Nelson Mandela University. She has been most honored and pleased to return to South Africa to work with so many former students who are now colleagues and department heads in prestigious universities, including UCT, UKZN, TUT, NMU, WITS and NWU.
Last May, in 2018, Professor Hill Moore brought a company of 35 singers, dancers and instrumentalists (Americans and South Africans) to mount a production of the new opera Wading Home with students and faculty at NMU, where former student, Njabulo Mthimkhulu is a lecturer, at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Pretoria. Wading Home, set in Louisiana, in August 2005, chronicles the amazing fictional journey of a famous New Orleans chef, Simon Fortier, who defies the advice of his loved ones and the Louisiana State authorities by refusing to evacuate and remaining in his home during Hurricane Katrina. Simon’s stubbornness nearly causes his death.
With a company of 30 singers and dancers, the South Pacific production will be an exhilarating evening. Professor Alethea de Villiers, Head of Music and Lecturer, Njabulo Mthimkhulu, and Rose Cowpar, Director of the Savoy Theater will welcome you along with Director/Choreographer, Roger Riggle, from Washington, DC, who has done the show many times over the past few years. The stage management and technical staff will be lead by SMU student and staff person, Chanda Price and the wonderful technicians of the Savoy Theater. Professor Hill Moore will produce the show and conduct the five-piece instrumental ensemble.
South Pacific will take place with a double cast in four performances at 19:30 on the evenings of June 20-21, and at 15:00 on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
No entrance fee will be charged for the shows but tickets need to be reserved ahead of time. To reserve tickets, the public can contact Rose Cowpar 072 906 1977.
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