Kulani Nkuna
3 minute read
12 Feb 2014
7:00 am

The gospel truth

Kulani Nkuna

The gospel of Maria, according to the musical's producers, is not for the faint hearted. Careers in music and acting are generally not for the weak-willed, but if you possess sub-par skills in both disciplines, then the producers of this new musical let you know immediately.

WAITING GAME. People spent most of the day waiting to audition for the gospel musical, Maria. Pictures: Nigel Sibanda.

Presiding over auditions is a vocation not too dissimilar from the role of St Peter at the Pearly Gates, deciding who gets into heaven and who is banished to fiery hell.

The only difference is that in heaven no one laughs at you. In Soweto, the musical director and choreographer for Maria did not hold back their amusement when less than stellar entrants tried out.

Aspiring thespians descended on the Soweto Theatre as early as 10 in the morning and some only got to appear before the judges at around 4pm.

The audition required the participants to be fluent in dancing, singing or acting. Those with the misapprehension that they could sing well were dealt with swiftly.

The judges informed prospective cast members to stop as soon as they exhaled half a note. This would be followed by a curt: “What else can you do?”

DANCE. Khanyisa Mayekiso gave a powerful dance audition and is now waiting for a call.

DANCE. Khanyisa Mayekiso gave a powerful dance audition and is now waiting for a call.

There was also little patience for poor acting and most were stopped just seconds into their monologues. Professional actor Emmanuel Nkosi, who had a brief stint on Isibaya, did not fare very well when he fluffed his lines.

The panel informed him that his audition was below the grade they required and told him to go back outside to practice his lines. One of the crew informed the judges, who had not recognised him, that he was on Isibaya, to which one of the judges responded: “You call yourself a professional actor, yet you cannot perform.”

The judges spoke of how the show was intended to tour the country before going into Africa and even overseas. The female members of the group selected were told “not to get pregnant”.

While biding their time or waiting for callbacks, some friends began twerking and taking part in suggestive dance routines.

Mapule Nguni from Orlando West Extension, who leads her church choir, was competent in both singing and dancing and the judges seemed to appreciate her abilities.

“The auditions were nervewracking today,” Mguni said.

“I have been a singer and an actress for over seven years and have been part of the Soweto Spiritual Singers, so I have some professional experience.

“It’s more than just a part for me it is the way I live my life. It’s an opportunity for me to go out there and preach the word of Christ.”

HOPEFUL: Mapule Nguni wants to spread the gospel if she gets into the cast of Maria.

HOPEFUL: Mapule Nguni wants to spread the gospel if she gets into the cast of Maria.

Some of those auditioning were able to learn the required choreography incredibly quickly. But some were comical, and one pair almost kicked each other in the face while trying to execute their moves.

Khanyisa Mayekiso, who showed herself to be a capable dancer, was excited to finally get a chance in front of the terrible two after a long wait.

“I have only been an artist and a stage performer since last year and this is my calling and what I have always wanted to do,” Mayekiso said.

“I can dance and act, and if I get this role it would be a fantastic boost to my ambition to be a professional actor in the future.”