This past weekend I was joined by 2 friends to one of the most unforgettable theatre experiences I have had / will ever have.
It was a musical production called “UnderAfrican skies” and had the following to say about it:
This nostalgic musical will take you through the history of South African music starting off from the 1940s and 1950s and progressing through the decades until 1990s. This features the music of the pennywhistle and Kwela jazz as well as hits from the late Miriam Makeba along with Paul Simon, Johnny Clegg, Mango Groove and many more South African legends. This show promises to reach into your soul!
And reach into my soul it did – I had goosies for about 90% of the show, and even had to hold back tears when one of the singers came on stage, dressed as Vicky Sampson, and sang “My African Dream”. I get goosies just thinking about it while I’m typing!!! In the centre of the photo above is a girl singing – that’s how she came on stage as Vicky Sampson. She was out of this world amazing!
The show started off with the pennywhistle, a bit of township dancing and an energy that would be hard to beat. They delved into a bit of Sho Sholoza, the National Anthem (in which all South Africans placed their hand over their hearts), Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie; not forgetting songs about the “Passbooks” and “The Resistance”. Nelson Mandela talks about this “Resistance” song in his book – the Long Walk to Freedom.
One of my favourite parts of the show was when they sang “Mama Thembu’s getting married” – this instantly brought back memories of a school play I did (I must have been only a handful of years old?!) and I got to belly dance to this song on stage!
They also then got a bit more serious when they started introducing Jonny Clegg, PJ Powers (a bit of “Jabulani”!!!), and Lady Smith Black Mambazo. I even learned that one of the songs (name eludes me) from The Lion King, was written by a South African many, many years ago – and sold for a mere 10 pounds, back in the day.
They started winding down the show with “She’s got diamonds on the soles of her feet”, a little bit of Mango Groove, and “Come with me, down Paradise Road”. Of course, by this stage, the crowd are mostly on their feet, joining in the merryment and singing along as much as possible.
At the end they went off stage – only to be brought back on by a full standing ovation… and they finally ended the show off with 2 songs (1 I forget), and Waka Waka.
This is not a full list of the songs sung – the show went on for 2.5 hours (with a small intermission) and had us picking out the memories from our younger years, listening to all this music.
If you get a chance to see it – do! You will not be disappointed. And you don’t have to be South African to enjoy it – one of the girls was American, and she had a great time 🙂