I want to pay tribute to one of the happiest experiences in my life. It took place in Cape Town, in July and August of this year.
A black township musical called 'King Kong' has just opened in Cape Town, a revival of an iconic show that was last performed in 1959. Back then it caused a sensation, and still lingers in the memories of South Africans. It was called 'King Kong' not after the great ape, but after a real boxer who had this as his nickname. The music - township jazz of the era - was written by Todd Matshikiza, and the show starred the then-young Miriam Makeba. It travelled to London, was acclaimed, then died. All these years later producer Eric Abraham has revived it. The original featured a number of glorious songs that are still well known in South Africa, and several spectacular dance numbers, but was weak on story telling and character. Eric called on me to work on the book and lyrics to embed the famous songs in a more coherent show.
In doing this I realised several of the characters needed songs of their own, so I ended up writing six new songs, as well as the revised and developed book. These songs have been set to music by the show's musical director, Charl Johann-Lingenfelder, who has brilliantly channeled the style of Todd Matshikiza. Eric then hired director Jonathan Munby and choreographer Greg Maqoma. We four, working in the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, then built the new show.