Calling me home is calling you to the theatre!

Head to the theatre this Women’s month for an epic love story that moves from the plains of Africa to the concrete jungle of a great American metropolis … We chat to two local stars from the heartfelt musical Calling Me Home, Lynelle Kenned and Christiaan Snyman – by Geniene Preston

Lynelle Kenned (Grace)

Lynelle Kenned, a classically trained soprano is one of South African musical theatre’s rising stars. Earlier this year she blew audiences away in the role of Maria in the Fugard’s production of West Side Story. She is currently a member of the South African Sopranos, and has performed, as soloist, Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St Matthew Passion. She made her silverscreen debut in Twee grade van Moord. In musical theatre she has also starred in two David Kramer productions – Blood Brothers, Orpheus in Africa and as Klara in Heidi – The Musical.

Who is Grace?

Grace, a young woman, flees her war torn home to find a new life amongst a group of migrants who, like her, have sought shelter here. She falls in love with Rafael and her life becomes part of the hopes and fears of her new community, in particular of Rafael’s beautiful but troubled sister Isabella, their friend Ben and the courageous Lindiwe. The community must defend itself from Ivan, a ruthless gang lord and tragedy strikes as evil, courage and hope battle it out and Grace ultimately discovers the true meaning of home.

Where do you call home?  

I am originally from Paarl and lived in Woodstock (Cape Town) for the past three years. My lease expired at the end of March, after which I made the move to Joburg. Now, I live like a nomad! I can fit my entire life into my hatchback and travel around from place to place. I do short term rentals or AirBnB stays close to whichever project I’m working on. When I’m not working, I store my car and belongings in a storage locker and travel. In June I went backpacking in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and will be going to study at a yoga school in India for three weeks over Christmas and New Year.

What is it about the show that resonates with you?

The story is universal – it’s ultimately about love and redemption, spanning two continents. The characters triumph over war, displacement and loss, and discover what home means to them. I lost my mother to cancer two years ago, so I relate strongly to having to discover new meaning to life after difficulty and loss.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the show?

Calling Me Home depicts the journeys of three women who each find their own personal power.

It’s a powerful love story of hope, courage, longing and compassion that will resonate with people everywhere, told through a mixture of classical music, African hybrid, jazz and traditional folksong. I hope this audience takes from it the strength of the human spirit to endure hardship and reach redemption.

Have you always enjoyed musical theatre?

I have always loved singing, but it was only after seeing Show Boat in 2005 that I fell in love with storytelling through music. Opera, Musical Theatre, even song recitals – it’s about the artist pulling the audience into their world for a while, and those exchanges continue to be some of the most magical and enriching experiences of my entire life.

What’s next:

I’m currently on TV as the host of a kyknet show,  Jý Geld, a program that empowers women financially. December/January will see me travelling to India to study yoga. February I will be seen in a new Afrikaans feature film, followed by returning to West Side Story in Cape Town in March.  

Christiaan Snyman (Ivan)

After a successful career on German opera stages, Christiaan Snyman returns to sunny South Africa to star in Calling Me Home. Christiaan relocated to Germany in 2009 where he was a permanent member of the Theater Koblenz Opera Chorus. Calling Me Home will be his professional debut in musical theatre.

You play Ivan, who is he, as its predominantly a show about  women?

Ivan is the big crime boss of the city where Grace finds herself. He is also the owner of the Mantis club, the night-club where Isabella, his girlfriend performs. He uses the club for money laundering and as the base from which he runs his business in the ‘underworld’ He is powerful, outwardly charming but menacing and volatile – as with power comes the struggle to keep that power so he is very suspicious of everyone, seeing anyone as a threat to his power. He uses people to get what he wants but his suspicions cause him to act irrationally and it causes his downfall.

 message do you hope people take from this musical?

Calling me home tells the very human story of people trapped in unforeseen circumstances that life throws at them, of forced displacement, fleeing for survival, the choices they make in reaction to it, and the hope that love brings, it shows that as long as we have options hope is not lost.

What is it about the show that resonates with you?

Calling Me Home tells a very human and relevant story. Apart from that, I also love the challenge of playing a villain and being able to sink my teeth into the baddie role.

Have you always enjoyed musical theatre?

I’m a professional opera singer and worked in Germany for almost seven years. Our Opera House did a different musical every year and this is where I fell in love with it. No show is ever the same.

For me it is always about the music first … It connects your heart to the story on a deep level. Alice Gillham has done a remarkably good job with her score. The music is heart wrenchingly beautiful. Calling Me Home has a really talented cast and it’s wonderful being a part of something totally home-grown – a truly Proudly South African production that the public should support!  He has performed locally in many variety style concerts, covering music from opera to musical theatre. Calling Me Home will be his professional debut in musical theatre.

What can we expect from you next?

For this year a possible Verdi requiem, next year a jazz standard concert and Mephistopheles in Faust by Gounod with the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra

BOX:

Diary date!

Calling Me Home runs at Joburg Theatre from Thursday 17 August – Sunday 3 September. Ticket pric-es range from R180 – R420 and can be booked online at www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling the Box Office on 0861 670 670.

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