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By Sholain Govender-Bateman an experienced news reporter, magazine editor,  freelancer,  loving wife to Barry,  mum of one beautiful girl, Isobel and someone with a passion for life and everything fun. Find her on twitter @sholain

Trying to merge South African history and theatre into an entertaining musical that appeals to a wide range of audience members is no easy feat, and unfortunately the creators of the current Shaka Zulu musical were not up to it. Whilst the narrator, Lindani Nkosi, and actresses Candida Mosoma and Nobunthu Mpahlaza, who play Nandi and Mkhabayi respectively, gave outstanding performances, other characters fell flat during the show that lasts over two hours.

The production, performed in English, shows the life of Shaka Zulu from birth to death and the set design and costumes are excellent. However, the story which includes Shaka’s brutal battles, family feuds and ongoing turmoil has lost a lot of historic value and impact in its now simplified form.

The first half  is fast-paced and exciting to watch whilst the second half drags on a bit as Shaka’s life draws to a close. There are a few funny lines that helped lighten the mood.

The music is original work composed by Johan Voster and has breathtaking moments as the cast harmonise. The solos by Mosoma and Mpahlaza are definitely worth going to the production and hopefully as the cast get more settled into their roles they will be able to give a performance worth remembering.

I don’t recommend this play for children below 12 years of age if you’re wary of introducing your child to the concept of violence too young. However, high school students may find the musical interesting especially if they are studying Shaka Zulu in their history lessons. As for adults, this isn’t the ideal date night production but if you’re keen on watching something different give it a try.

What: Shaka Zulu – The Musical
Where: State Theatre – Pretoria
When: From 26 June 2010
Cost: R145 – R245 (Computicket)

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