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JUST THE TICKET (article first published : 2004-03-16)

Radio Today presents a radio adaptation of Just the Ticket by Percy Tucker on his 50-plus years in South African theatre on Sundays at 18h00 (repeated Thursdays at 11h30).

With the new Leonard Rayne Theatre up and running, the year 1983 saw the opening of another theatre in Johannesburg, the Wits Theatre, situated on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand, with Ian Steadman's production of The Comedy of Errors.

On November 7, 1983, Computicket opened in Natal, the first tickets being issued to Professor Elizabeth Sneddon and Rose Magid (nee Alper).

Louis Burke directed the wonderful musical Barnum for PACT at the Civic as their Christmas attraction. This musical journey of the life of the famed creator of the three-ring circus was a sumptuous affair, demanding enormous agility from the lead actor. English pop star and actor Mark Wynter was imported to fulfil this task, which was so taxing, it was shared with Paul Ditchfield.

In 1984, South African born Estelee Kohler returned home for the first time in 20 years, after a distinguished career in the UK, to star in Shakespeare's Lady at the Market. Another theatrical highlight of 1984 was Pieter Toerien's award winning production of Clarence Darrow starring Richard Haines.

Sun City was being affected by the increasing strength of the boycott but presented Chicago, Andy Gibb, KC and the Sunshine Band, Air Supply, the Bellamy Brothers and Chris Rea, Boney M and return visits by Julio Iglesias and Shirley Bassey.

The major event of 1984 however, was the visit to Sun City of one of the world's leading rock group Queen with their lead performer Freddy Mercury. By noon on the first day of booking, all 63,000 seats were sold out. The opening performance on October 5 was electrifying. However, in the midst of the performance on October 7, disaster struck when Freddy lost his voice. Hazel Feldman tells the behind the scenes story of this nightmare for her, as well as for Computicket with all the 'refunds'.

1985 saw an explosion of indigenous theatre with productions such as Asinamali, Born in the RSA, Bopha, the Biko Inquest, Sophiatown, Have You Seen Zandile and CAPAB's Fiela se Kind as well as a revival of The Island. Many of these toured the world.

PACT opened its Johannesburg headquarters at the Windybrow Theatre in Hillbrow.

All this and more in Ivan May's Kultcha Vultcha on Radio today 1485am broadcast on Sunday at 18h00 and repeated Thursday at 11h30.




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