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By Citizen Reporter


Didintle Khunou makes history as first black Janet in ‘Rocky Horror Show’

As many of the die-hard fans know, the role of Janet has always been played by Caucasian actresses … until now.

The Rocky Horror Show was first staged in 1973 to an audience of just 63 people in London’s Royal Court Theatre Upstairs.

Dripping with smut, sex and pure camp joy that only the British, with their wayward sense of humour, would find appealing, no one knew that the production would become the sell-out stage success it is today – especially in South Africa.

The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad and his fiancee Janet, two squeaky-clean college kids who meet gender-bending transvestite Dr Frank N Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house while they are on their way to visit their favourite college professor.

The Rocky Horror Show. Picture: Richard Davenport

It’s an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits.

And as many of the die-hard local fans of the film and stage productions know, the role of Janet has always been played by Caucasian actresses … until now.

For the first time in South Africa, award-winning actress Didintle Khunou has been cast in the lead in Artscape’s Rocky Horror Show adaption coming to the theatre tomorrow and running until January 12.

Khunou continues to improve her credentials with this epic casting, which follows her lead role as Celie in Grammy, Tony and Naledi award-winning The Color Purple.

Didintle Khunou as Celie in ‘The Color Purple’: Picture: Supplied

She had this to say about her upcoming role:

How does it feel to have been cast as a lead in one of the most famous rock ’n roll musicals of all time?

A pleasant surprise. I never really imagined it ever happening.

You will be playing the role of Janet Weiss. What drew you to her character?

Initially, I wasn’t drawn to Janet, to be honest. In my mind I thought it would be rather silly of me to audition for a Caucasian role. But when I was approached by a member of the creative team to audition, I thought I’d give it a go and I did. I was delighted when I got the official casting.

 How has the rehearsal process been so far and what can audiences expect from the production?

We’re getting the show on its feet quite quickly. With the guidance of our exceptional director, Christopher Luscombe, and choreographer, Andy Ahern, you can’t expect anything less.

Audiences can expect to see a fresh take on the blockbuster musical. Rocky Horror is known to be a fun, wild and naughty show, our production is no exception!

The Rocky Horror Show. Picture: Richard Davenport

How has this role stretched you as an actor?

It’s confirmed that, given the opportunity, skill set and adequate preparation, I really can play any role under the sun. That awareness and confidence has significantly shifted my approach to the craft.

What are you most excited about in the production?

It’s fun and energising. For many of us, this will be the first time we perform in this production, so it will be great for audiences to see new faces take on these interesting roles in this iconic musical.

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