Umoja still sizzles
Show hits 12 years with a bang
UMOJA, one of South Africa's longest running musicals, still enjoys massive support from the public after 12 years of nonstop performances both in South Africa and abroad.
While popular among local audiences, these days Umoja seems to be drawing more attention from overseas tourists, who continue to flock to the theatre to see its portrayal of South Africa's recent history.
Over the weekend it once again demonstrated its enduring spirit and longevity in a venue packed to the rafters, with the audience celebrating its theatrical milestones.
This year marks Umoja's 12th anniversary and its musical home - the Victory Theatre in Orange Grove - turning 5 years old.
The mood among the audience was exuberant as the cast of Umoja traced the dramatic journey the country has travelled by performing their exciting song-and-dance sequences.
From depicting what life was like in the Sophiatown of the 50s to the kwaito era of the 90s, you almost don't need a textbook to understand the political dynamics of the time since Umoja does it so well.
The dancing is energetic. the drumming magical and the songs are beautifully crafted and well executed.
But having attended the musical several times in the past I was this time left feeling that, as good as it is - as a dramatic narrative of South Africa's volatile past - there is now a need to beef up the script.
For example, producers Joe Theron, Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni do not tell us a lot about the existence of white South Africans during the same period, concentrating almost exclusively on depicting how the black majority negotiated their everyday existence under apartheid.
The musical does not, for example, tell us much about how whites were also affected by the former regime's crippling ideology.
For example, it is well known that not all whites supported apartheid, but the musical does not tell us much about how they responded to apartheid as ordinary individuals having to survive in their own hostile communities.