Press: KING KONG season extended – new cast announced!

After a sold-out six week season at the Fugard Theatre, the hit musical KING KONG returns by overwhelming public demand for the summer season. Presented by Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre, KING KONG will run from 12 December with bookings now extended to 18 February 2018.


More than half a century since the first performance in 1959, the Fugard Theatre’s production of this iconic and historic musical has received five star reviews and rapturous responses such as “a knock-out success”, “simply magnificent”, “a tribute to South Africa’s performance arts legacy” and “a theatrical treat”.


KING KONG tells the story of heavyweight fifties boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini whose self-appointed ring name was "King Kong" to the wildly exhilarating music of Todd Matshikiza.


Stepping in to the shoes of shebeen queen Joyce in the role which helped propel Miriam Makeba to international fame in the original production of KING KONG, is Edith Plaatjies, who has previously dazzled Fugard Theatre audiences in productions such as District Six: Kanala; Orpheus in Africa and Blood Brothers. With her powerhouse voice and electric stage presence, she has also been seen in productions such as Radio Classics directed by David Kramer and Slick Swing and Kaapse Musiek In Kleur, both directed by Alistair Izobell.

Reprising his acclaimed performance in the role of King Kong is actor, singer and dancer Andile Gumbi (The Lion King, isiBaya).  Gumbi made his Broadway debut as Simba in Disney’s The Lion King and has starred in productions of this musical in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai and South Africa. He was voted by The Sowetan as one of Mzansi's Sexiest Top 12 celebs in 2015, and played the character Zweli in the Mzansi Magic soap opera isiBaya, which was voted most popular TV soap at the 2017 SAFTA Awards.


“For those Capetonians who missed out on the first run of KING KONG, or who want to return with friends and family, this is the perfect holiday summer season entertainment and a celebration of local talent with our all-star South African cast,” says Daniel Galloway, the Executive Director of the Fugard Theatre.


The Fugard Theatre’s KING KONG is directed by Jonathan Munby who directed the Fugard Theatre's production of A HUMAN BEING DIED THAT NIGHT with Noma Dumezweni (the only double Olivier award-winning Southern African actor) amongst many other international productions including the recent production of Shakespeare's KING LEAR for the Chichester Festival in the UK starring Sir Ian McKellen.


The original production featured music by Todd Matshikiza, lyrics and original book by Pat Williams and book by Harry Bloom.


The revised book (with additional lyrics) is by Academy award nominated screenwriter and playwright William Nicholson (Shadowlands, Gladiator, Les Miserables, Sarafina, Long Walk to Freedom). South African choreographer star and recent French Legion D’Honneur recipient Gregory Maqoma choreographs KING KONG to the irresistible original music of the late great South African composer Todd Matshikiza.


The Fugard Theatre’s production sees Musical Direction by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (West Side Story, Funny Girl, Cabaret) and Sipumzo Trueman Lucwaba with additional music and arrangements by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder.


Set design is by Paul Wills (A Human Being Died that Night, Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet, West End - Wyndham's Theatre, David Mamet's American Buffalo); Costume design by Birrie le Roux (West Side Story, Orpheus in Africa, District Six: Kanala); Lighting Design by Tim Mitchell (A Human Being Died That Night; Royal Shakespeare Company's King Lear with Antony Sher - Associate artist RSC/Chichester Festival Theatre) and Sound Design by Mark Malherbe (West Side Story, Funny Girl). The associate director is Mdu Kweyama.


The Fugard Theatre's KING KONG cast includes: Sanda Shandu as Lucky (Orpheus in Africa); Tshamano Sebe as Jack (Athol Fugard's Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek; Master Harold and the Boys; Noem my Skollie); Ntambo Rapatla as Miriam (Menopause the Musical); Sne Dladla as Pop (District Six: Kanala; Orpheus in Africa; Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek); Josslynn Hlenti as Petal (The Lion King; South African Idols) and Sabelo Radebe as Caswell (West Side Story; Peter Pan) .


Also performing with the ensemble are Joel Zuma (Sophiatown; Kwela Bafana - The Musical); JT Medupe (Hansel and Gretel; Peter Rabbit); Athenkosi Mfamela (In The City of Paradise; Bash or Be Bashed); Shalom Zamisa (Voices of Hope; Sarafina); Sibusiso Mxosana (West Side Story; Funny Girl; A Spartacus of Africa); Aphiwe Menziwa (Passage; Inexba Lomphillisi); Namisa Mdlalose (Rent); Siphiwe Nkabinde (Exit/Exist; Music in the Air); Lungelwa Mdekazi (African Angels; Phantom of the Opera); Barileng Malebye (Sophiatown; Making Mandela; Dogma; Emotional Creature); Rushney Ferguson (District Six: Kanala); Given Mkhize (Sacredspace; In The End is My Beginning); Siyasanga Papu (Marikana the Musical; Rhythm City); Ziyanda Yako (The Colored Museum; Ingoma); Masego Mothibakgomo (Festival of The Lion King; Romeo ‘n Juliet Unplugged) and Jabulani Gambu (The Lion King; Clash of the Choirs).


A live 9-piece band, under the direction of Sipumzo Trueman Lucwaba, accompanies the action at every performance.


KING KONG will return to the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town from 12 December Tuesday to Saturdays at 8pm with a 4pm matinee on Saturdays and on Sundays. On New Year’s Eve Sunday 31 December, there will be a performance at 2pm and the Fugard Theatre bar will close at 7.30pm.


Tickets cost from R130 to R280. Bookings can be made at Webtickets and through the Fugard Theatre Box office on 021 461 4554.


Harrington Street car park is located at the corner of Caledon and Harrington streets and is available for the use of theatre patrons. Visit the cosy ground-floor bar, which opens two hours before all scheduled show times and stays open until last rounds are called… often as late as 1am. And if the weather is fine the bar on the fantastic rooftop terrace is opened, with its panoramic views of the city. Both bars offer a range of wines from some of the Cape’s top estates.                   


For further information visit


Press comments for the Fugard Theatre’s 2017 production of KING KONG have included:


“5 stars – KING KONG is a knock-out success.”
– Debbie Hathway, City Press


“5 sterre - KING KONG bekoor teatergangers…Daar is gelet op die fynstebesonderhede.”
–Mariana Malan, Die Burger


"KING KONG – Legend of a Boxer….soars to its own heights… Gregory Maqoma’s choreography is simply magnificent”
– Marianne Thamm, Daily Maverick


"Apart from the collective excellence of its cast, both actors and musicians, this production is stellar by virtue of its staging." 
– Beverley Brommert, Cape Times


“a triumphant production..Brilliant choreography”
– Orielle Berry, Cape Argus


". a tribute to South Africa’s performance arts legacy... KING KONG 2017 is a knockout."
– Siya Mahomba,


“ …KING KONG 2017 is a beautifully staged, impeccably performed piece of work, bubbling with vitality and sparkling with talent”
- Karen Rutter, Weekend Special


"KING KONG is a theatrical treat, and something to treasure and celebrate for the fact that it brings to the here and now a part of South African theatre history."
– Barbara Loots, TheatreSceneCpt


“KING KONG lives on today in a handsomely mounted production that honours the spirit of this legendary South African musical.”  
– David Fick, Broadway World


“The Fugard’s stage might be small in size but what it lacks in dimensions it makes up for tenfold by putting on strong productions that capture South Africa in a way that few other theatre houses have done before."
– Alex Isaacs, Channel 24


" ... pure genot. Elke akteur, danser, sanger en musikant in die nege-man-orkes gee hulself met oorgawe vir die produksie..."
– Maryke Roberts, Litnet


“... undoubtedly one of the best experiences you’ll see on a South African stage this year"
– David Simmons, Stage and Screen 


"What King Kong proved again was how important it is to tell our own stories by our own people – and how an audience responds." – Diane de Beer, De Beer Necessities


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