Opening this week at the Roxy Revue Bar, GrandWest, Shout! The Mod Musical follows the story of 5 women in the swinging 60’s. It is an inspiring celebration as we watch each of these women navigate womanhood and experience her own rite of passage to discover her true self through a decade of emotional highs and lows. What is also interesting to note is that Shout! centers around the fictitious Shout! Magazine: a magazine for the Modern Woman, so it was only fitting that Sarafina Magazine sat down with the cast to chat about the show. Ticket information and cast bios can be found at the end.
What does it feel like to be a part of this production? I know some of you are returning so if you are can you also tell me why you chose to come back?
Laura Bosman: I am reprising the role of Green Girl. I am also the chairman of the society of Pinelands Players. When we did the show a number of years ago it was such a success and it has got such powerful content for the empowerment of women. We trace the path from the 60’s and 70’s and the time where women were really coming out. For me it was a no brainer.
Melissa Sanderson: I am playing Orange Girl again. It was honestly such an amazing experience the first time around because the characters are people that you can actually relate to. They are very stereotypical in a way but you can still easily find your mother, your sister, your best friend in the particular stereotypes. It was such an incredible experience the first time round of just delving in and finding out which bits of ourselves were in each character.
Christine Thonissen: I play Blue Girl and I am new to the cast. It’s been incredible. I think we are also so diverse in terms of age and life-stage so that has been really great to work within a cast of five girls. The issues that we are talking about are so relevant to that time and relevant to us today as well.
Megan Spencer: I was very excited to join this production because I am graduating this year and this is Musical Theatre, it’s what I’ve studied to do. I was very excited for the experience. I love the music. The lyrics are still so relevant to today. I really enjoy the lyrics and the music and I think people in my generation will enjoy it as well because we don’t really have much experience with this type of music.
Enyha Swanepoel: I play Red Girl. It’s been a great journey. I work alongside Laura at Milnerton High School and she has just kind of taken me under her wing. She introduced the production and told me they were having auditions and I just fell in love with the character. It’s been fun. I’m the youngest. Lots of life lessons and just being able to take from each person is just a blessing.
What does it feel like to be a part of a production which features an entire female cast and that deals with strong female issues?
Laura Bosman: I find it quite comforting. It’s quite unifying for me especially on the days when I am feeling like “oh my gosh, I am the only one who feels fat or worries if anyone will ever love me etc.” To take part in a show that covers those issues quite successfully and to interact with women who are different ages and life-stages, is comforting.
Megan Spencer: I battle to express my truth but for some reason being together and seeing that everyone has their own journey, everyone has an off day, everyone feels good or feels bad. We aren’t perfect. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who feels that way and I am able to speak my truth now because we are kind of forced to work together and so closely. It’s helped that.
Melissa Sanderson: It becomes a safe space. It’s a place where you first start out and because you don’t know everybody so well, you don’t feel entirely safe. Slowly as you start going through the process and realise that you are not the only one who sometimes does your step-touch in the wrong direction, that it becomes a safer place where you feel free to be able to open up. It becomes quite an interesting dynamic for an audience. We are there to entertain them but because we have felt the way we do, it becomes this tighter bond of being able to bring that across to the audience and make things so much more exciting and interesting for them.
Enyha Swanepoel: I found it quite scary in the beginning because each of the characters have something that you can tap into or you can find or pull from yourself. It has been quite a vulnerable space for me, so as Melissa was saying, you are kind of stripped from your guard and it’s easier to not get hurt in a sense but because you are letting your guard down you are more vulnerable. I am very sensitive but it’s nice because I like a challenge.
Christine Thonissen: For me it’s been a very real experience. I think that it’s been different to any show I’ve ever done before and that it’s been a really honest and really real experience with the five of us. It’s nice that it’s a small cast and we can arrive in rehearsal in tears or we can be smiling.
What is something you have found to be the biggest challenge with your role or the production and what are you most proud of that you have been able to find while working through the material?
Christine Thonissen: I am still quite inhibited I think. Blue Girl is very conceited. She thinks she’s a model. She is quite out there. That has been a challenge for me but I’m still growing and I think it is going to be a huge growth experience so I think that will be fantastic.
Laura Bosman: For me the biggest challenge has been wearing a couple of hats. I’m wearing the chairman of the society, wearing the cast member hat and wearing a production team member hat and getting right down and dealing with the issues that have arisen from them and also practicing separating people from issues and learning that actually that is tricky. The most positive thing, this is very vain, I am the oldest. I am 25 years older than the baby but I still rock it.
Melissa Sanderson: As choreography is not my strength, one of my biggest challenges is going “am I ever going to get this step right? Am I ever going to remember which way to move without looking at somebody else and hoping I can follow them?” I suppose a positive from that is the excitement I feel when I do get it right. The other challenge is because we have quite a short rehearsal period, so there is a lot to cram into it, is fitting in what is, at the moment, a pretty hectic day job and trying to find the time to rehearse outside of the rehearsal room. That is a massive challenge for me. I am battling a bit this time with being able to juggle it all and give everything the right amount of time, energy and devotion.
Megan Spencer: My biggest challenge has always been self-editing and confidence. Being with you ladies has helped me overcome that. My character’s description is brash and uninhibited and that has been quite a challenge because personally I am not like that. I have to distinguish between my emotions, the character’s emotions and what is being expected from me in the rehearsal room and that is a challenge because I am a very emotional person but I don’t show it which is another challenge. It’s a personal challenge all in all but I’ve loved every single minute of it. I do this because I love it. I’m a better person because of it.
Enyha Swanepoel: My challenge has been, specifically with my character Red Girl, there are a lot of similarities. She is quirky, she’s the youngest and she stumbles a lot. I’ve found myself sometimes placing myself psychologically in that and becoming maybe too submissive when in fact I’m actually quite strong-willed. I have a mind of my own and I say what I want to say but this role has put me in a baby mentality and that has been tricky. My favourite part of this, besides from being able to perform and do what I love, is having worked with these four ladies. Just to be able to be part of their lives and where they are in their life-stages. They are each so different and to take from that has really been something special for me.
What is the significance of the characters being named after the specific colour?
Melissa Sanderson: I think the significance was to make them more like every woman than instead of it being ‘Kelly and Louise and Tanya.’ What is interesting with them choosing colours, is that Orange actually changes colour. I feel like the reason for the colours was to make it more global but the fact that one colour actually changes is significant to show that they have taken on a different journey which I suppose can happen with all of us.
How do you feel about the use of the word girl as opposed to woman?
Laura Bosman: There’s the PC answer and then what I really think. What I really think is I don’t mind and at my age there’s a little bit of it going ‘yay.’ I think because we travel 10 or so years, perhaps we start in what represents ‘girlhood’ for that character, in the space of unknowing, and moving to womanhood. One of the last lines is “I’m your wife, I’m your sister, your mother, child of the 60s” so they move past that.
Melissa Sanderson: I’ve always just thought it has a better ring. “Blue woman” “Blue Girl.”
Enyha Swanepoel: I suppose if we had to be like “oh I’m being called a girl” then there is something inside of us that might still have a bit of an insecurity but I think because we are all pretty much content and it doesn’t really bother us that there’s no need to feel…
Laura Bosman: And I think that the characters are all women. The portrayal is woman but the name is girl. I don’t think anyone will miss the womanliness of the show.
What do you hope the audience walks away with?
Laura Bosman: I hope that they have laughed, cried and they walk away feeling like they have shared a part of a growth. They feel that they’ve moved with us and have been moved by us because there are some beautifully poignant moments in this piece and very funny moments and it’s got a lot of heart. I hope that they catch it.
Megan Spencer: I want to show that no decision is wrong. We all end up where we end up for a reason and nothing you do is wrong. You can’t make any other decision in that moment because you are in that moment and influenced by things in that moment. Be inspired and empowered by your decisions.
Melissa Sanderson: First and foremost we obviously want people to be entertained but I honestly would really hate it if people just walked away going “that was fun! Awesome!” Because there is so much more to be taken from the show. I really do hope that people are impacted. That there is a shift, a feeling that they maybe relate to one particular character in the show or, that there is a little bit more than just the fun.
Enyha Swanepoel: I think that them watching the show will affirm that it is ok if you fit into one of these categories because at the end of the day, Green Girl has her problems, Orange Girl has her problems, Blue Girl, Yellow Girl, Red Girl, but no one is better or less because everybody has their own levels and no one is better.
Melissa Sanderson: And stop comparing yourself because everybody is going through something.
Christine Thonissen: Exactly.
Megan Spencer: We can unite as women.
Enyha Swanepoel: And even though it was set in the 60’s, the issues are still relatable in 2016.
Who are some South African women in the arts that inspire you?
Melissa Sanderson: The first person that pops into my head is Janet Suzman but that is so not current.
Laura Bosman: Thalia Burt because I want to be Thalia Burt.
Megan Spencer: Kimberley Buckle, she graduated last year. She is a playwright and I think women would definitely relate to the kind of plays that she writes. They are very intellectual and it’s not expected that a woman would write something like that. We are seen as very emotional beings. She is setting a good example for female writers.
Enyha Swanepoel: Yaël Farber stands out for me as a director and some of her stuff is very explicit but it is raw and it puts you right there and it is in your face and it may be uncomfortable but it’s the right kind of uncomfortable. Her directing style for me is phenomenal.
Melissa Sanderson: I would also in the same sense put Lara Foot there because her work is incredible. But have you noticed how we are all talking when we are bringing South African women in the arts, are playwrights and directors.
Laura Bosman: We aren’t looking at musicians or fine artists.
I think its interesting because it is bringing up the question of ‘why don’t we know enough about each other’s work?’
Melissa Sanderson: I suppose the more you sit and talk, the more women will come to mind. Laura Bosenberg at Cape Town City Ballet. She’s amazing. But you don’t immediately go ‘boom boom boom.’ You have to sit down and think.
Laura Bosman: I think the point for me is that you can say “American, go.” I could tell you 10 people but we can’t do it here.
Megan Spencer: I don’t know, is it the media? Because I watch the E! channel and I read Cosmopolitan and it’s all American stuff. So I’m seeing this (Sarafina) magazine and thinking that it is pretty awesome because you are putting South African women in the arts out there.
Enyha Swanepoel: I think they need to be exposed more.
Melissa Sanderson: We need to support each other.
Shout! The Mod Musical, directed by Garth Tavares, can be seen at the Roxy Revue Bar, GrandWest, from 4th to 26th November. Performances are on Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 5pm. Tickets can be booked here.
Special thanks to Garth Tavares and Wes Figaji
Cover Photo Credit: Lynda Jennings
LAURA BOSMAN (as Green Girl)
Laura reprises her role as Green Girl after her award-winning performance in 2012. By day she teaches English and Dramatic Arts at Milnerton High School where she regularly writes and directs productions. She is currently chairperson of Pinelands Players, the dramatic society presenting Shout! Laura has been involved in theatre ever since she played Snow White at the age of seven. She has performed in a number of musical classics, such as Chicago, Cabaret, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Camelot, The Boyfriend, Guys and Dolls, Sound of Music, Oklahoma, Annie, A Christmas Carol, and Honk.
MELISSA SANDERSON (as Orange Girl)
Melissa reprises her role as Orange Girl after her award-winning performance in 2012. She studied Drama at Rhodes University and had her own Drama Studio in Port Elizabeth before relocating to Cape Town, where she has continued to be actively involved in theatre. Melissa has performed in a number of cabarets, musicals and plays over the years, including Fiddler on the Roof, Calendar Girls, The World Goes Round, Once Upon a Time.com, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Shaken Not Stirred, and Boeing Boeing.
CHRISTINE THONISSEN (as Blue Girl)
Christine comes from a very musical family who encouraged her to start modern dancing at the age of four. She has performed in various productions both during and after high school, including Grease, The Wizard of Oz, HMS Pinafore and Annie.
ENYHA SWANEPOEL (as Red Girl)
Enyha has a passion for teaching and performing, and is currently studying Drama and English at UCT. In her spare time she helps out in the Drama Department at Milnerton High School, from which she graduated last year. Shout! is her second major musical – the first being Grease in 2015.
MEGAN SPENCER (as Yellow Girl)
Megan is a fourth year student at the Waterfront Theatre College. Her debut Musical Theatre performance was in Legally Blonde, for which she won the college’s Richard Loring award. She has performed in various musicals and plays, including Adam and Eve the Musical, Broadway or Bust, The Pirates of Penzance and The Crucible. Between studying, teaching drama students on weekends and waitressing part-time, Megan is also a voice-over artist at the Waterfront Film Studios.