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AFRICAN FOOTPRINT (article first published : 2004-06-2)

Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom have announced that Richard Loring's internationally acclaimed, award-winning musical, African Footprint, is to launch the new Izulu Theatre when the complex opens in October/November 2004.

The 540 seat Izulu Theatre is part of this new Sun International managed property near Umdloti, Durban, which also houses a 450 seat action/showbar, as well as conferencing facilities, a boma and an interactive Zulu cultural village.

Few can dispute the success story of African Footprint, now South Africa's longest running musical in history, which had its humble beginnings some six years ago when Executive Producer and Director, Richard Loring, was inspired to stage a production to showcase South Africa's vibrant cultural diversity.

The show has enjoyed sell-out seasons wherever it has played: from its first performances at the Globe Theatre, Gold Reef City Casino (Johannesburg) where they have had nightly ovations for an unprecedented four years (and still going strong!) to its two sold-out seasons in Cape Town.

This Proudly South African production has travelled to London to perform for HRH Prince Charles; to Atlanta, USA, at the invitation of Ambassador Andrew Young; performed at the Opening Ceremony of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Cape Town, again travelled abroad to China and India, as well as enjoyed a highly successful five-month tour of Australia. Their most recent travels took them to Israel, and further international visits are planned for later this year.

Audiences have varied from celebrities to international tourists, locals to public icons: from Nelson Mandela at the first showcase performance on Robben Island on Millennium Night, to President Thabo Mbeki attending the World Premiere, to President Bill Clinton at the Civil Society Inauguration.

All have enjoyed this "explosive stampede of song and dance" that incorporates the hypnotic heartbeat of the African drum, the haunting pennywhistle, the inspiring words of poet Don Mattera melded with energetic Afro- and Euro-centric dance styles.

‘The show’s real success is that it truly embodies the African Renaissance ideal.” says Loring “The production has significantly empowered so many talented young South African performers and we see them rising to stardom on stage and television.”

Already the "original" cast has been able to move on and establish themselves within society – one perfect example of this is "Kaybee" (Keabetswe Motsilanyane) who is now a celebrated recording artist and soap opera star. Many others have started with the production having moved through the ranks with further responsibilities.

“The demand for the show to travel has been so great that we have had to ensure that one cast remains in South Africa, while another cast continues its travels internationally,” says Richard Loring.

On making the decision to stage a season of African Footprint in Durban, Richard Loring has committed himself to auditioning and bringing Durban artists into the Company. Some Durban performers have already been incorporated into the cast and further auditions will be held in Durban in the near future to ensure that more local performers are integrated into the cast during the course of the season. All the technical crew will be sourced from Durban.

‘We are really delighted to be bringing this world class production to Durban “says Tristan Kaatze, General Manager of Sibaya, “Durban audiences have waited a long time to see the show, and we sincerely believe it will have major local appeal, as well as huge appeal to our national and international tourist market.”




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