Neo Vilakazi Presents the new sensational musical

 

 

Showcase Performances

Coming to the studio,Potterrow (behind the festival theatre), edinburgh, 25 - 27 October

Cast

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Morgan Njobo, Chief Sabelo
“I have an extensive experience in developing and producing creative work, including music and dance productions rooted in South African cultures. I have been an active artist and performer working with professional entities and community groups since 2006 by artistically leading choirs, dance crews, a cappella ensembles, and production companies.
I am also a Creative Director of a South African production company Njobo Productions which aims to provide professional performing arts experience to the Sowetan township’s street talent. As a Director of African Connections CIC I have been promoting African cultures through music and dance workshops and performances in the UK schools and community centres.
 
I have been working on international stages for the past 10 years in the capacities of a vocalist, dancer, choreographer, director and producer performing with a cappella groups and leading dance ensembles. I have been performing with touring productions (Soweto Encha/Africa Entsha) across Europe since 2008. Since 2014 I have been an Artistic Director and Producer of musical and dance shows with Njobo Productions. I have directed, produced and performed in ‘After Freedom: New Rhythms of Soweto Musical’, ‘I Am Rhythm’, ‘Africanised’ and ‘Cell Block Soweto: An A Cappella Gang Show’ and ‘Sowhereto Africa’, which have been performed to full houses at 2016, 2017 and 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and received 4-and 5-start reviews. I am passionate about musical theatre and have endeavoured to deliver quality and engaging shows that both entertain and inspire in my 10-year long career in the industry.
 
Since I moved to Scotland (2014) I have developed and performed in vocal and dance shows as well as run dance and music workshops. I have worked with Project X Symposium, Dance Base, Starcatchers, Just Festival, AfriFest and Edinburgh College/PASS.
 
‘I feel honoured and privileged to be able to tell our African stories at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh with my fellow African and European artists. Let’s enjoy the early days of ‘Shona, the Musical’ story on Edinburgh and international stages”
Morgan Njobo, Chief Sabelo
“Like me, most of the amazing singers I know, started their singing careers in the church.  I was the choir leader in my church by the tender age of 11yrs.  Our church choir entered singing competitions around Soweto and South Africa which we won frequently.  This is when a wonderful thing happened.  All of the other choirs that we sang against would try to get me to join them and lead their singing.  That’s when I knew, my life would be one full of music and song.  Years later, the people who know me best were not surprised to learn that I had created a singing group called ‘Simply Soweto Entsha’ which toured the world and delighted audiences everywhere.
We toured across Europe and the UK singing our acappella songs since 2008 until 2015.  We performed annually in the Edinburgh Fringe since 2011.  We sang and danced our way into the hearts of Scottish and English audiences and were subsequently rewarded by receiving significant funding from the Arts Councils of England, Wales and Scotland.
Not satisfied with that modest success, I followed that up by creating Njobo Productions which was responsible for creating the hit show “I am rhythm” which went on to achieve great things in it’s own right.  I have been around singing and performing my whole life.  I can tell you that my collaboration with Neo Vilakazi to create “Shona the musical” far exceeds anything I have ever done in this industry.  Audiences are in for a massive treat.  “Shona the musical” will change the game.  I look forward to seeing you all in theatres across the globe enjoying our masterpiece.”
Jessica Kellyhannon
Jessica Kellyhannon, Joanne

Jessica is a dancer and dance teacher from Dublin. She began her training in Broadway tap and Musical Theatre, but later fell in love with Hip Hop and Commercial styles, performing and competing throughout Ireland. After receiving her BSc in Neuroscience from University College Dublin, she went on to complete her Diploma in Professional Dance from The College of Dance, Dublin. It was here she grew her love for Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary.

Jessica has danced with BPS Dance and Why Not Dance Company, and performed at several Christmas and New Year’s events with Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland. Jess was an ensemble member and featured dancer in Sean Gilligan’s production of ‘Annie the Musical’ in The Helix theatre Dublin 2017, and danced in Viko Nikci’s Irish film ‘Cellar Door’ 2017.

She is assistant choreographer and dance captain for Rebecca O’Connor ‘Simply the Best’, a Tina Turner tribute show that tours theatres in Ireland annually as well as aboard ‘Back to the 80’s’ Cruise 2018 on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator or the Sea’s.

In 2017 she became a member of the Senior DYDC where under the training of Mariam Ribbon she performed at the Belfast Youth dance festival Ireland, the Laois youth dance festival, Ireland and Rimini si Danzse, Italy. During this time she also worked with acclaimed Irish choreographer Liz Roche.
She is excited to be playing Joanne and extremely happy to be working with such a talented cast who are teacher her many things about African dance and culture.

Sabelo Sekgoto, Actor
Sabelo Sekgoto, Role: MUJURU
 
Thembekile Setiabi, Role: Chorus and village woman
Thembekile Setiabi, Role: Chorus and village woman

Thembekile has 10 years experience in the Arts industry. She has worked as a dancer and choreographer in various projects around South Africa as well as internationally.Thembekile’s work has toured Germany, France and Turkey amongst other countries.

A graceful Performer who possesses a sense of rhythm, a feeling for music, and a creative ability to express themselves through movement and song. Having good health and excellent physical stamina as well as an ability to work as part of a team with other singers, performers, artists and actors. Multi-skilled and able to translate those skills into movement that expresses ideas and stories.

“My Art is a text in constant communication. My Language is physical, primal but not primitive”

Gqabi Tyalimpi
Molefe Nong, Role: Jomo

Molefe Nong is a South African writer,musician & artist.The Wordsmith co-foundered LentsweAfrica Ltd. a South African privately owned creative house and digital hub positioned to provide a range of arts and craft solutions.

The companies strongest inclinations lean toward poetry, music (of all forms, styles and genres) and writing/editing. Nong’s prolific writing portfolio has earned him recognition as one of a performer, at the Scotland Edinburg Fringe Festival August 2017/2018. 

His amongst the top five winners in the national spoken word Off The Wall Poetry slam in South Africa. His benchmark is to become a leading brand in the realm of Spoken word aiming to create an open-minded and deracialized culture of peace, love, understanding and unity amidst not only the youth of South Africa, but also global society as a whole.

John Sithole, Role: CHIEF SABELO'S Cousin

“I Have been active in the entertainment industry for the past 18 years. I have a vast and expanse knowledge in the creative theatrical dance world. My ability and skill to Act, Sing and Move has seen me travel the world,visiting places like:

Spain( Madrid),(Valencia ).Hong-Kong,France (Paris),Berlin,Frankfort,beijing,Munich,Freighburg,Humberg.Mozambique,Zimbabwe,Goanzoa,Shangai,Wuhan,Italy,Belgium,Switzerland, and South Africa. The list is endless.

My passion for theatre has enabled me to facilitated some workshops involving young aspiring theatre lovers.”

Bandile Makhathini
Bandile Makhathini, Role: Chorus, Villager & Soldier

“I dance therefore I am.” 

Sifiso Mncwango
Sifiso Mncwango, Role: Chorus, Villager & Soldier

“In Soweto where I come from, you must have something about you that makes you stand out.  My thing is dancing.  All my life I’ve danced anywhere and everywhere.  I dance when I’m angry, dance when I’m happy and dance when I feel like anything in-between.  At 15, I discovered that the best way for me to get a girl, is to dance.  It worked like a miracle.  I am still doing that now.  It’s my way.  My dancing has taken me all the way to Edinburgh in the UK and all around South Africa.  When I dance, the world pays attention, audiences stand and applaud.  Man, I love this life of dance…”

Faith Thulie Tshabalala
Faith Thulie Tshabalala, Role: Village Woman 1 / Chorus

Born and Bred in the township of Soweto in Johannesburg. My dance interest began when I was 13 yrs.

When I began my high school, I was privileged to receive an invitation to Attend an audition at the National School of the Arts. I guess I can say this is where I was introduced to real technique and different genres. As part of the curriculum I studied Ballet, Contemporary, Spanish, African, Jazz and Modern dance. At first all of this was all so overwhelming and completely challenging but I belief passion, drive and purpose carried me through.

I belief my whole life I have been privileged to practice or should I say work in the industry that I’m mostly passionate about. In 2003 I was invited to join Moving into dance as full time professional performer. I had an opportunity to travel while performing and teaching on National and International platforms. I worked with the world most acclaimed choreographers such as Sylvia Glasser, Vincent Manistee, Gregory Maqoma, Mitchel Keleminise from France, Marie Bolin Toni from Sweden, Ido Tedmo from Israel just to name a few.

After spending 10yrs in a fulltime environment in 2012 I felt the need to spread my wings and start a new journey as a freelance creative artist. To continue as a performer but most of all to develop myself and engage into community work to share my skills and knowledge to mostly those who are passionate about the creative industry but have not had the opportunities that I had. I wanted to work with youth organisation that focus on development, training and giving hope to communities where creative arts can bridge a gap.”

“When I dance I cannot judge I cannot hate I cannot separate myself from life I can only be joyful and whole this is why I dance.”

Professor Lephafa
Professor Tokoloho Lephafa, Dancer

Professor Tokoloho Lephafa is a professional dancer & performer based in South Africa who has been working with BE United for several years! He specialises in Pantsula, Zulu, Gumboot and Hiphop dance. He is a diverse artist with over 6 years of experience dancing, performing and delivering workshops. He has performed at huge international events such as The Durban Sports Awards and Miss Universe.

In 2017 Professor performed as part of BE United’s Scottish Tour of  ‘Champions Tale’. Im 2018 he spent time working again with BE United delivering dance workshops around the UK and performing with his Scottish crew. He performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in So Where To Africa with Njobo Productions at DanceBase and was cast as a solider, villager and member of chorus in groundbreaking new African musical Shona.

Fraser Kelsey
Fraser Kelsey, chorus and Mr C's understudy

Fraser has Performed in youth theatre since a young age.
He quickly gained confidence in many theatre groups such as ‘A-Team Productions’, ‘Strange Town’, and ‘STMS’, ‘BBE ‘Balerno Theatre Company’ and also ‘Captivate’ and ‘Thistle n thorns’ in the Fringe.

Fraser attended an acting for screen class through Strange Town and a part of its agency where he gained film experience through auditions and on set staring in an RBS financial awareness video and played a minor role in a student film concentrating on OCD. Fraser has also done SA work with All Talents Agency and been in Outlander and Cliques.

Fraser also gained leadership skills from volunteering at ‘Captivates’ younger Saturday classes. Gaining experience volunteering for the front of house at A-Team Productions take of Oliver.

Oratile Letsholo
Oratile Letsholo, Role: Oracle

“Singing is my life.. I feel the music and let the words flow out in keys that I may have not known I could create vocally. I minister on a national level in my church AFANMI as part of the praise and worship team, and that is where I discovered and learned to nurture my gift. I live by the words, “When I minister in church I strive to enhance the presence of God. Not to portray my talent.” and my love for music has gotten me through tough times and times of joy. Sharing my gift with the world is something I have always wanted to do but did not have the confidence to step out and embark on my journey. Shona The Musical is my start.”

Katleho Phume
Katleho Phume, Role:

CREATIVE TEAM

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Raymond Neo Vilakazi, Creator & Producer
Raymond Neo Vilakazi, Writer, Composer & Producer

“Africa needs a voice on the interntional stage. I hate the fact that other people get to define what Africa is and who Africans are. I am tired of Hollywoods version, it’s time we told our own stories”

Raymond Neo Vilakazi – Writer, Composer & Producer

Morgan Njobo, Co-composer & Choreographer
“I have an extensive experience in developing and producing creative work, including music and dance productions rooted in South African cultures. I have been an active artist and performer working with professional entities and community groups since 2006 by artistically leading choirs, dance crews, a cappella ensembles, and production companies.
I am also a Creative Director of a South African production company Njobo Productions which aims to provide professional performing arts experience to the Sowetan township’s street talent. As a Director of African Connections CIC I have been promoting African cultures through music and dance workshops and performances in the UK schools and community centres.
 
I have been working on international stages for the past 10 years in the capacities of a vocalist, dancer, choreographer, director and producer performing with a cappella groups and leading dance ensembles. I have been performing with touring productions (Soweto Encha/Africa Entsha) across Europe since 2008. Since 2014 I have been an Artistic Director and Producer of musical and dance shows with Njobo Productions. I have directed, produced and performed in ‘After Freedom: New Rhythms of Soweto Musical’, ‘I Am Rhythm’, ‘Africanised’ and ‘Cell Block Soweto: An A Cappella Gang Show’ and ‘Sowhereto Africa’, which have been performed to full houses at 2016, 2017 and 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and received 4-and 5-start reviews. I am passionate about musical theatre and have endeavoured to deliver quality and engaging shows that both entertain and inspire in my 10-year long career in the industry.
 
Since I moved to Scotland (2014) I have developed and performed in vocal and dance shows as well as run dance and music workshops. I have worked with Project X Symposium, Dance Base, Starcatchers, Just Festival, AfriFest and Edinburgh College/PASS.
 
‘I feel honoured and privileged to be able to tell our African stories at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh with my fellow African and European artists. Let’s enjoy the early days of ‘Shona, the Musical’ story on Edinburgh and international stages”
Sara Julia Campbell, Storyboard Illustrator
Sara Julia Campbell, Storyboard Illustrator

Sara is a tall, Swiss-born Freelance Illustrator who has been making art for as long as she can remember. She adores making colourful, detailed pieces and has always been fond of storytelling, theatre and music. This is why she was instantly drawn to Shona: The Musical and enjoyed drawing the many characters and exotic costumes. She uses a combination of traditional and digital methods to make her work.

Her other interests include folklore, mythology, ice skating, cats and video games. She also writes and illustrates a fantasy adventure comic called Kingdom of Awakening with her husband.

If you have a fun project in mind or want to see more of her work you can visit  www.saraljart.com

Ramsy, Music Producer
Ramsy, Music Producer
 
Pirita Tuisku - Choreographer
Pirita Tuisku, Choreographer & Assistant Art Director

My name is Pirita Tuisku, Finnish Dancer, Choreographer, Dance teacher and aerial yoga teacher based now in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have had pleasure to work already a decade in different fields in dance and have been training in many different dance styles and other body condition practices. Working with other dancers from different backgrounds and cultures as well working with community groups I feel dance has a huge power to bring people together and learning from each other. But it is also a great comprehensive exercise for body and mind. This is way I feel thankful for working in this field.

I have been working as a Dancer, Choreographer and Teacher in Finland as well in Scotland, places like Dance Base, Neu Reekie , Surraa Productions, Oulu Dance Academy, International festival theatre.  And National Schools of arts, Moving in to dance Mophatong, Jozi Youth Dance company in South Africa. In Finland I have been running my own dance school Cross Move Company and Surraa Production dance organization.

www.piritatuisku.com

Hayley Steel, Digital Designer
Elina Karadzhova, animator and projectionist

Elina is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose work expands from motion graphics, video and photography to graphic
design, art installations and projection mapping. She is also a researcher who explores through visual arts the impact
of practicing more than one language to our identity, memory and sense of belonging.

Elina was in charge of projection during the shows as well as she animated some of the visual assets for the musical.

www.elinakaradzhova.com

Maura Pilleri, Sardinian Costume Maker and Performer
Maura Pilleri, Props designer and maker

With a background in Fashion, she found in costumes her real true calling.

Collaborated with many creatives and worked in both Theatre and Cinema productions.

Moved to the UK in 2015 to fulfill her dreams –  “Costumes are pure creativity with no limits”

Fiona Campbell, Project Manager
Fiona Campbell, Project Manager & Neo Productions Director
 
Malcolm Innes, Lighting Design Consultant
Malcolm Innes, Lighting Design Consultant

Malcolm is a very experienced professional lighting design consultant with project experience on large scale architectural projects around the world. He combines his architectural lighting design work with art projects and commissions working principally with light, sound and projection. Malcolm also teaches on the BDes Interior Architecture, BDes Design & Digital Arts and MDes Lighting Design programmes at Edinburgh Napier University.

Malcolm is author of the book, ‘Lighting for Interior Design’ published by Laurence King Publishing as part of their Portfolio Skills series.

Malcolm established a new Masters programme in Lighting Design at Edinburgh Napier University.The programme began in 2011 and attracts students from all over the world.

Specialties: Architectural Lighting Design, Design Education, Interactive and Kinetic Art

John Hails
John Hails, Musical Supervision and New Orchestrations
 
James Hind, Sound Designer
 
Andrew O'Dowd, Tangible Interactions Designer
Andrew O'Dowd, Tangible Interactions Designer

“My background is in the areas of Electronic Engineering, Product Design Engineering and Interaction Design. I graduated with a National Diploma in Electronic Engineering from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in 2004. Following this I studied Product Design Engineering, graduating in 2009 with honours. In 2010 I completed my Masters in Interaction Design.

My professional work has ranged from developing responsive wearables for a contemporary dance performance in 2011, to working as lead Digital Designer for Leaving Planet Earth at the 2013 Edinburgh International Festival.

More recently my work has concentrated on audience/user experience design through spatial and personal interactions. I am co-founder of F9 Collective (www.f9-colloective.org), an artist group interested in the creation of critical interactive artworks.”

Lorna Sherry, costume supervisor
Lorna Sherry, Costume Supervisor

Lorna is a 4th-year costume student who has worked on a large variety of projects. From German TV productions over small theatre and panto productions to short films and exclusive costumed events. She always enjoys a new challenge and learning new sewing techniques, cultures and styles. She has worked as a dresser on numerous local musical productions.

Hayley Steel, Digital Designer
Hayley Steel, Brand & Website Designer

“I have worked as a brand consultant specialising in brand and website development for network marketing professionals and small business owners for many years. I get excited when creative businesses have big ambitions. As an avid musical theatre lover, I couldn’t resist getting involved and being apart of Shona, Neo is an extremely talented individual and his story is phenomenal, a one of a kind. It has been a real privilege to have worked with so many talented people within Shona! “

As a designer, I love colourful, unusual and bold statement styles of designs. Designers and artists such as Picasso, Jamie Reid, and Vivienne Westwood push the boundaries of the norm within the creative industry. They have had an impact on the type of designer I am.”

Fin Wycherley, Social Media Marketing Expert
Fin Wycherley, Social Media Marketing Expert

Fin Wycherley: CEO of Supersize Media – Digital Marketing Trainer, BBC commentator, Social Media Trainer, Social Media Marketing Speaker, 10 Downing St Advisor, TSB Small Business Digital Advisor, Specialist and Advisor on all aspects of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Email and  Youtube Marketing, ASB Woman of Inspiration, Finalist for ‘Outstanding Contribution’ in ASB awards September 2018.

“I work with charities and social enterprises, as well as small business and entrepreneurs, across the world to develop powerful online marketing strategies that get the right message in front of the right people at the right time (and on the right social media platforms).”

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