Theatre interview: Stephan Fourie producing This Moment, A Musical Cabaret, December 2020, at the Masque Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa
|Who: Stephan Fourie, producer |
Current project: This Moment, A Musical Cabaret When: December 11-20, 2020 Where: The Masque, Muizenberg Ticket price: R100, discounts: Masque members, seniors, students. Computicket
|Contact: Stephan Fourie by e-mail: Stephan@curatedevent.co.za |
This Moment, A Musical Cabaret is the first major production at The Masque, Muizenberg, since the national lockdown in South Africa. The producer is Stephan Fourie and he talks about the logistics of staging musical theatre during the pandemic and the collaboration with Magnetic Storm – an events company, specialising in sound, lighting and audio-visual hire, sale and installation. Magnetic Storm is sponsoring the technical side of the production. Many of the role players are waiving their fees to make this production happen. The community is pulling together for the love of theatre and community. Proceeds will go to the Masque Theatre- which is 61 years old and is the home for numerous Cape Town community theatre societies and is also a professional venue-for-hire. Although Fourie is ‘producer’, he says that the production belongs to ‘everyone’. It is being staged in the spirit of hope, after a horrendous year which has flattened the live events industry. By going big – 11 artists on stage – and a band – this show is very much about celebrating musical theatre and affirming community theatre as a platform and space for expression and creativity.
TheCapeRobyn: How did This Moment, A Musical Cabaret come about?
Stephan Fourie: It started with a very organic discussion with The Masque Theatre manager, Patricia Kitson. Once the relaxed lockdown regulations were put in place, I reached out to her to discuss the viability of a December show at The Masque. It didn’t take long before the two of us had crafted an idea. The rest, as they say, is history. We received wonderful support from the board and less than a week later, I had assembled what is arguably the most wonderful production team in the world. Every single team member grabbed the opportunity to make theatre with both hands and has been delivering work of the highest calibre. Magnetic Storm joined us shortly thereafter, coming on board as the tech sponsors for the show and thereby completing the final piece of the puzzle. Within two weeks we had a production team, a venue, a producing house. The show was cast a week later and we are now knee deep in rehearsals already. We have also been blessed with the most talented cast anyone could ask for. Each cast member brings a unique energy to the piece and a work ethic that I haven’t seen in a very long time.
TheCapeRobyn: Who wrote the script? Did you devise it with the cast?
Stephan Fourie: The script was conceived by Sheldon Cross (director) and Jana Botha (assistant director). They crafted a beautiful narrative based on the personalities of each cast member and this has since been workshopped further during the rehearsal process with the cast. The result is a very authentic narrative about a diverse group of people’s dream, aspirations and hopes for the future. What’s exciting about this project is that you hear a truthful stories as told by the very performers that inspired them.
TheCapeRobyn: During Covid, you are working with reduced seating – 50 percent of venue. We don’t know, if another lockdown is around the corner. The show must go on and we must seize the moment- which sounds like it is the premise of the show – seizing the moment – and getting on stage and just doing it?
Stephan Fourie: Not many people know this, but theatres actually run at ridiculously small margins. In order to break even you need to get close to full capacity. That’s why many receiving houses have opted to remain closed. This production would not have been possible without the support of Magnetic Storm. This production is an incredible showcase of what happens when businesses support the arts. Every single person involved in this project is doing so understanding that this show might not even get to the stage… Whether that commitment is monetary or time; it speaks to the soul of the arts. Nowhere in the world is there an industry that is more willing to give in order for the medium -that we all love so very much- to continue existing. There is something magical about theatre, and this is evident more now than ever before. From a producing perspective we are taking every precaution with our cast and crew; keeping them safe. With the potential of future restrictions etc. we are also racing to put together a digital release of the production.
TheCapeRobyn: Does the show feature new songs- written especially for the show – and/or Broadway hits- songs we will know and tap away to?
Stephan Fourie: The show is a love letter to musical theatre. We have compiled a list of songs that audiences both know and love and some that might be new to our local audiences. We started the project with a pre-conceived song list in mind, but that quickly changed when we discovered the versatility and personalities of our beautiful performers. Some toe tapping favourites include Maybe this time (from Cabaret), I’m the greatest star (from Funny Girl), The Show must go on (from Moulin Rouge) and Broadway here I come (from Smash). The show also includes songs from musicals like Waitress, Gypsy, Hairspray, Pippin, The Last Five Years and Nine, to name a few. All in all it is a musical treat in a time that we really need it.
TheCapeRobyn: I take it that there will be dancing and singing?
Stephan Fourie: Correct. The superb vocals are handled by musical director extraordinaire Neil Leachman, while our superb choreographer Antoinette de Villiers is crafting the movement of the piece. We also have three astounding dancers in the show who are sure to wow the audience.
TheCapeRobyn: Back tracks or live musicians on stage?
Stephan Fourie: As if staging a cabaret during lockdown isn’t enough of a challenge, we have added a live band into the mix as well. Once again this would never have been possible during a normal season. However, talented musicians and artists alike have been offering their services to this fundraiser, which has made this whole process so much more rewarding.
TheCapeRobyn: Is it formatted as a cabaret- with an emcee – like Cabaret? How are the acts strung together?
Stephan Fourie: The creative team have taken a nod from the book of original German cabaret. The songs are woven together by a narrative set in a theatre. The ensemble cast find themselves on stage, waiting for their moment to shine. A series of events culminate in the moment when they finally arrive at their opening night.
TheCapeRobyn: You are producer and I would imagine that this is quite an undertaking – especially at this time. Eleven people in the cast, plus your backstage and creative team – design, lighting etc. Who is funding this?
Stephan Fourie: The project is being funded by a few key role players in the production team, but being a fundraiser, we have put a great deal of work into finding donations and sponsors as well as re-purposing many items. This project has truly been the culmination of many passionate people with a joint vision. Many people are giving their time and skills freely and this is a testament to the incredible value of theatre and the performing arts.
TheCapeRobyn: Here you are staging an epic scale cabaret -11 performers is a big number- during the pandemic?
Stephan Fourie: We were spoilt for choice with some incredibly talented people auditioning. If it wasn’t for safety concerns and protocols, our cast would’ve easily been double its current size. The final team all bring something very special to the piece, each with their own unique story to tell. We are all conscious of just how lucky we are to be able to make theatre at the moment. The entire team is using this as an exercise to figure out how to sustainably create live theatre in the future. This project is a celebration of theatre and the perfect homage to an industry that has suffered severely these past few months, but will return to its former glory.
❇ Image credits: Supplied. In the featured image- Tersia Harley.
|What: The Masque Address: 37 Main Road, Muizenberg, 7945 Cape Town Website: http://www.masquetheatre.co.za/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/masquetheatresa/?ref=py_c||Twitter: @MasqueTheatreSa Instagram: @masquetheatresa Phone: 021 788 1898 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Facilities: Parking available, wheelchair access. Catering: Licensed bar – currently no food available, light bar snacks|