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PRESS: International Guest Artists Announced for FINDING THE LIGHT

Christine Skinner

 

The star-studded line-up is complete following the announcement of the international guest artists joining the production of FINDING THE LIGHT - AN EVENING WITH MUSICAL THEATRE STARS.

FINDING THE LIGHT - AN EVENING WITH MUSICAL THEATRE STARS is an exhilarating celebration of some of musical theatre’s best loved shows, with 100% of net proceeds going towards supporting the incredible work of the Kolisi Foundation.

 

Accompanied by the full Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Brandon Phillips (CPO Resident Conductor), and hosted by the incomparable South African icon, Marc Lottering, FINDING THE LIGHT - AN EVENING WITH MUSICAL THEATRE STARS runs at Artscape Opera House from 17th to 21st April 2024, with the Gala Night on Thursday 18th April 2024.

 

For the first time, South African audiences will have the chance to savour performances by Broadway and West End luminaries Kim Criswell (Olivier-award nominated for Annie Get Your Gun; “Lucy” opposite Sting in 3 Penny Opera; Cats); Michael D. Xavier (Joe in Sunset Boulevard opposite Hollywood film star Glenn Close; Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday The Musical;  ITV’s Grantchester); David Habbin, (West Side Story, Les Misérables, Amici Forever, and co-founder of the Finding the Light Foundation) and Broadway Star Nikki Renée Daniels (Company; The Book of Mormon; Les Misérables; Hamilton).

 

These four artists are seasoned masters of their craft across stage, screen and recording studio.

 

They join South Africa’s beloved music stars, who are no strangers to international stages themselves, Jonathan Roxmouth (Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Cats), Lynelle Kenned (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Orpheus in Africa), Tshepo Ncokoane (Janice Honeyman’s Peter Pan Pantomine, Kinky Boots, We Will Rock You – The Musical World Tour)  and  Lucy Tops (Kinky Boots, Funny Girl, The Romantix).

 

FINDING THE LIGHT - AN EVENING WITH MUSICAL THEATRE STARS is the culmination of a coordinated international fundraising drive with the Kolisi Foundation. The Kolisi Foundation was set up by Siya and Rachel Kolisi in 2019 to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing South African communities. 

 

Bookings can be made at Webtickets.  VIP experience packages are available and include welcome sparkling wine, reserved underground parking, a donation to the Kolisi Foundation and prime seating.

 

We are honoured to present, for the first time in South Africa, this powerhouse group  of international performers, who join us in celebrating our common humanity through the magical force of music and live performance,” says  Jessica Ross, Executive Producer of the show and co-founder of Finding The Light Foundation. “Proud to be associated with the Kolisi Foundation in this fundraising drive, we unite in giving South African audiences an evening of world-class entertainment, while providing an opportunity for them to invest in making a tangible difference in local communities.”

 

FINDING THE LIGHT - AN EVENING WITH MUSICAL THEATRE STARS will be a wonderful musical theatre feast,” says Daniel Galloway, who is producing the event alongside Jessica Ross. “Sport, music and live performance bring us together in ways which no other mediums can.  “For one week only, we present some of the world’s best performers right here on the Artscape Opera House stage, in a celebration of talent and our much-loved musicals!”

 

Kim Criswell’s career has taken her from Broadway to the West End to the international concert stage, resulting in a truly unique and exceptional career path with a specialty in the classic American theatre songbook. 

 

She has performed at numerous opera houses, including La Scala in Milan and Opéra Comique in Paris, not to mention multiple appearances at venues such as London’s Wigmore, Royal Albert, Barbican, Cadogan Halls, the Purcell Rooms and even Buckingham Palace.

 

Ms Criswell has sung with many of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, from the Berlin Philharmonic and BCMG orchestras conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, to the Lepzig Gewandhaus and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras, virtually all of the major UK orchestras to name a few; also many of Europe’s radio orchestras. She has appeared in the BBC Proms 4 times.

 

Her long and illustrious list of theatre credits include an Olivier-award nomination for “Annie” in Annie Get Your Gun at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre. Ms Criswell also won Washington DC’s Helen Hayes Award for Side by Side by Sondheim. Most recently in the US she starred in Call Me Madam at Goodspeed Opera House and co-starred with Joseph Fiennes and Charles Edwards in Happy Days in the Art World in NYC, while recent UK roles include Big Mama in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof at Royal Exchange and Carrie’s mother in Carrie at Southwark Playhouse.

 

Ms Criswell Broadway credits include “Lucy” opposite Sting in 3 Penny Opera, and the original production of Nine. She was “Grizabella” in Cats in the original LA production, and appeared as “Lalume” in Kismet/Opera Pacific, Michigan Opera, recently reprised for Vienna Volksoper. She has also recorded more than forty albums, including four solo albums.

 

A distinguished star of stage and screen, Michael D. Xavier recently played the lead role of Joe Bradley in the European premiere of Roman Holiday The Musical and the lead role of Henry Higgins in the U.K tour of My Fair Lady. In 2017 he starred on Broadway playing the lead role of Joe in Sunset Boulevard opposite Hollywood film star Glenn Close shortly followed by a leading role in Prince of Broadway directed by the late, legendary Hal Prince and Susan Stroman.

 

Over the last few years he has been seen in ITV’s Grantchester; Gentleman Jack (BBC/HBO), as secret agent Chistopher Miles in The Blacklist (NBC) and as Lieutenant Hamilton Knox in Outlander (Starz). He's also been filming ITV’s Grace with John Simm and The Chelsea Detective (ITV) with Adrian Scarborough.

 

Mr Xavier recently finished playing the leading role of Jeremy Zenner in futuristic feature film Utopia and stars in the feature film Hammarskjöld as Hellemans and The Isle Tide Hotel, an exciting feature-length interactive film  in which Michael stars as the lead, Josh.

 

He received two concurrent Olivier Award nominations in 2011 for his performances in Into The Woods at The Open Air Theatre and Love Story at The Duchess Theatre & Chichester Festival Theatre.

 

His numerous other theatre credits include: Sam in Sleepless (Wembley Park Theatre), Joe in Sunset Boulevard (ENO/Coliseum), Suffolk and George Of Clarence in Shakespeare’s trilogy The War of the Roses directed by Trevor Nunn (Rose Theatre), Charlie/Vittorio Vidal/Oscar in Sweet Charity (Cadogan Hall), John Wilkes Booth in Assassins (Menier Chocolate Factory), Sid Sorokin in The Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre – Broadway World Award nomination), Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park - Broadway World Award nomination), Raoul in The Phantom Of The Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Sky in Mamma Mia! (International Tour Original Cast), Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Miss Great Plains in Pageant (Vaudeville Theatre and King’s Head Theatre), Nankipoo in The Mikado (UK Tour) and Chris in Miss Saigon (Original UK Tour) among others.

 

Mr Xavier’s many film appearances include Paris, Wine & Romance, Never Let Go, The Muppets Most Wanted! and Gnomeland while his radio credits include recordings for BBC Radio 2 such as Tony in West Side Story and Artie Green in Sunset Boulevard.

 

Recordings include: The Phantom of the Opera’s The Phantom (Music Of The Night) and Company’s Bobby (Being Alive) in Prince Of Broadway (Original Broadway Cast Recording), Oliver in Love Story (Original Cast Recording), Laurie in Little Women (Pelion Productions), Thank You For The Music (West End International), Soldier in Toys (MiltonMorrisey Productions), Unwritten Song (Michael Bruce), Chance In A Lifetime (Tim Prottey-Jones) and Therese Racquin and Lift (Craig Adams).

 

David Habbin’s diverse career includes performing in the London cast of Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre, playing Combeferre and Marius; Young Scrooge in the musical, A Christmas Carol at Nottingham Theatre Royal and Tony in the West End revival of the original West Side Story production, directed by the show’s co-creator Arthur Laurents.  Other recent stage productions include Carrie, the Musical, Closer to Heaven and Funny Business.

 

Mr Habbin trained operatically at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, following which he joined the company of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, performing roles in operas such as Die FledermausDon Pasquale, Falstaff, Madama Butterfly and La Traviata.

 

He was one of the five original members of Sony BMG ‘classical crossover’ group, Amici forever.  Their debut CD album ‘The Opera Band’, achieved gold status in the UK, double platinum in Australia, triple platinum in New Zealand and was named as the number 2 Classical Crossover album for 2004 in the United States.  They recorded and performed the BBC’s theme music for the 2004 Olympics and performed on tour in some of the most prestigious concert halls around the globe.  Their follow up album ‘Defined’ was released in 2005 with combined album sales of 2 million worldwide.

 

Mr Habbin has also performed extensively in concert including as lead soloist for the Raymond Gubbay White Christmas shows in the Royal Albert Hall, the Birmingham Symphony Hall and Glasgow Concert Hall and with John Wilson and the RTÉ Orchestra playing Tommy Albright in Brigadoon at the National Concert Hall, Dublin.

 

Nikki Renée Daniels has performed extensively across stage and screen.  Her debut solo CD, Home is available on iTunes.  

 

She played Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton at the CIBC Theater in Chicago and Ms Daniels’ Broadway credits include Company (Jenny),  The Book of Mormon (Nabulungi), The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess (Clara), Les Miserables (Fantine), Anything GoesPromises, Promises, AidaNineLittle Shop of HorrorsLestat, and The Look of Love. She has performed as a soloist with numerous symphony orchestras across the country and in Canada, and at Carnegie Hall.

 

On screen, Ms Daniels has appeared in The Other .Woman, Billions, Chappelle's Show, Madam Secretary, The Equalizer, and The Sound of Music: Live.

 

FINDING THE LIGHT - AN EVENING WITH MUSICAL THEATRE STARS will be staged by the UK’s Paul Robinson (Singing In The Rain – Olivier Nominated) with Musical Supervision by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (West Side Story, King Kong) and Musical Direction by Dawid Boverhoff (Kinky Boots, Funny Girl, Sound of Music).


Siya and Rachel Kolisi founded the Kolisi Foundation with a vision to use their influence to change the stories of inequality in South Africa, to see thriving communities. The Foundation works alongside others to make a difference, by “remembering the one, one by one” to impact the nation.

 

Finding the Light Foundation helps unite and mobilise South Africans and Africans in the UK and in South Africa in support of those addressing frontline challenges in South Africa.


The two organisations, in their own right, were both founded with the common desire of making an enduring difference in South Africa.

 

For further information visit https://kolisifoundation.org/ and https://ftl.org.uk/

 

Tickets, starting from R190 and can be booked at Webtickets


Evening performances are at 20h00, with matinees on Saturday at 15h00 and Sunday at 14h00.

*VIP experience packages are available and include welcome sparkling wine and prime seating.

No babies on laps, no under 5s.

 

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