Ntsepa Molebatsi: Making magic on big stage

The Lion King has become a classic of sorts, and the theatre production is even better than the animation, as you see the characters come alive.

One magical character that's a joy to watch as she mesmerises us with wisdom and humour is Rafiki.

And actress Ntsepa Molebatsi does the role justice.

Molebatsi, 35, is part of the all-South African cast that is celebrating the play in the Giraffe Tour as part of their 20-year celebrations.

The show will run for two years in Singapore and Seoul, Daegu, Busan (all in South Korea) and Taipei (Taiwan).

It premieres in Manila, (Philippines) in March.

Molebatsi joined Lebo M's (born Lebo Morake) production in 2010 when the show toured Las Vegas - the 28th most populated city in the United States.

She has played various characters in the production over the past seven years.

To date, the production is the longest-running theatre show worldwide, with an average of 85million people having watched it.

Molebatsi did not plan to audition for the production, but when she was turned down for a role in Muvhango, she was told by the soapie's creator, Duma Ka Ndlovu, that she should audition for TheLion King.

"A few months later they called me, inviting me to the audition. Still, I didn't make the cut," she said.

To her surprise, the producers called her again, requesting to see her one more time - and she made it through.

"Being part of the production has been wonderful. I love theatre because I get to see the audience's response immediately," Molebatsi said.

Even when she is away from home, she said being part of the crew does not make her miss home that much as they have become family.

Theatre has always been her passion, she said, because she loves the interaction with the audience.

Her love for the craft began when she was in high school.

"I was very bubbly and talkative, so most of my teachers recommended that I do drama," she said.

After matriculating, she did a diploma in drama at the Tshwane University of Technology.

After graduating, she worked for the People's Theatre in Braamfontein, Joburg, for three years.

Speaking of her role in TheLion King, Molebatsi said Rafiki is a sangoma who helps Simba the lion find his way home after he had left because of his evil and conniving uncle.

"Rafiki takes Simba through everything and protects him throughout the journey and blocks any evil that comes his way," she said.

Molebatsi said it is a beautiful role that requires a lot of acting.

"I am looking forward to this tour although I have never done anything like this. I am very excited," she said.

My Life

Place of birth Mahwelereng, in Limpopo.

Marital status She is married and has a two- month-old baby.

Number of siblings She is the last born of three girls.

Ambitions In the future she wants to produce for television.

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