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MADDING CROWD (article first published : 2002-06-2)

Durban brothers John and Raymond Ellis are finally coming in sight of realising their decade-long dream of turning Thomas Hardy’s acclaimed novel Far from the Madding Crowd, into a sumptuous stage musical. And the buzz in local showbiz circles is that after years of hard work, their production is likely to be a knockout.

The musical version of Far from the Madding Crowd is inspired by both the book and its 1967 film adaptation by John Schlesinger, which starred Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates and Peter Finch. The stage version has been scheduled to slot in at the Playhouse Opera from August 31 until the end of September.

Set to a book and lyrics by John Ellis, with music by Raymond Ellis, this stage adaptation unwinds in the year 1874. It tells the epic tale of the lovely Bathsheba Everdene, who is in love with, and feels superior to, three very different men – the trusty Gabriel Oak, a vulnerable older man, Edward Boldwood and the fickle Sgt. Frank Troy.

“After years following the ‘sensible;’ route, appealing to industry, investors and producers for support, we have come to the hard realisation that if Far from the Madding Crowd is to have any life, it is up to us to make it happen,” the brothers have stated. “On the face of things, this appears to be foolhardy and reckless. On the other hand, does one ignore intuition and instinct and let years of hard work and passion go up in smoke?’

Karen van Pletsen, star of the Durban shows Annie, Elton and Concert Fever will play the lead in the musical. Also in the principals line-up are Duncan Royce (Queen at the Opera and Mercury Rising), David Dennis Frank N Stein and exciting newcomer Aubrey Po. The cast of 20 also includes Kate Bruce (Concert Fever), Carol Trench (Let’s Misbehave and Bloody Mary) and award-winning dancer Boyzie Cekwana. The production will also feature an on-stage choir.

Booking open at Computicket.




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