Last night I had a profound experience at the theatre (The Fugard) and what was doubly surprising about it was that it was a musical (I hate musicals), and it was one I thought I had seen before; David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa. This not the same one I saw at the beginning of the year. This is a reworked, finely tuned, and now truly powerful story, that is devastating, uplifting, human and heroic. It is David Kramer’s best work I think.
It totally helps that he has the cast of dreams, and that Aubrey Poo is beyond magnificent and was meant to be Orpheus Macadoo. And the rest of the cast are outstanding without exception, though I will make an exception when saying how brilliant Jill (Jazz) Levenberg is. Even the little niggles I had last time (wavery accents and weird white people) are gone, and the performances are better in every single way. A welcome addition to the delicious cast is Adrian Galley.
But what has happened to transform this musical and make it transcendent is that David Kramer has found the story. It is a complicated one, and he has had to travel through facts, and scratch out history and imagination to uncover the story that makes the journeys, successes, failures and ultimately the passions of the Macadoos, Virginia, so meaningful. David captures the vision of the world, and particularly South Africa, through the unique eyes of travelling American just freed black people, and it is such an extraordinary journey. Plus, I think it is so unexpectedly brave and risky to rework a show of this scale, but it has paid off in bucket loads.
I love this show. I love the music, and I am deeply in love with the style of the period, the costumes, and the performances. I love the singing, and the music (Charl-Johan Lingenfelder you make me laugh and laugh) and the Jubilee songs. And Aubrey Poo, you move me.
(Pic by the amazing Jesse Kramer)