A Soweto Story

Every one knows the heart warming story of Romeo and Juliet, the feud between the Montagues and Capulets that tore the love struck couple apart and led to their tragic demise. It is story that has been retold in so many different ways, but never with a touch of Africa. In March 2007, the South African musical version of this epic love story opened at the Nelson Mandela Theatre, as the Soweto Story.

As in the original story, two lovers meet and begin a journey of passion and tragedy, as they fight for their relationship and their devotion to each other. Romeo and Juliet are replaced by Vuyani and Thandi, that come from two feuding families in Soweto, the Thwalas and the Kheswas. These two families are ancient rivals in the taxi industry and although the story line seems quite similar to this point, the outcome is vastly different to that of Shakespeare.

Thandi’s father has promised her hand in marriage to Malcolm who is a very rich man, and according to the family, a suitable husband. These plans cause a big problem for Vuyani and Thandi, who have fallen madly in love with each other. Vuyani decides to fight for Thandi and arrives at her 21st birthday party with his affiliated gang, the Pantsulas. Unfortunately, the situation gets out of control, when Jabu, Thandi’s brother, and his gang called the Bourgeois end up fighting on the streets of Soweto. In the confusion and chaos of the fighting, Vuyani fatally wounds Thandi’s brother by stabbing him and goes on the run.

Thandi’s love for Vuyani is still as strong as ever and together they hatch a plan to leave Soweto forever. But as in Shakespeare, tragedy is just around the corner for the lovers. Malcolm, Thandi’s intended husband, learns of the plans and finds them at the train station. And this is where their story comes to an end, as Malcolm pulls the trigger out of jealousy and anger, killing both Thandi and Vuyani.

The roles of Thandi and Vuyani are played superbly by Nkoto Malebye and Aubrey Poo, with a talented cast of singers and dancers. The music that was collaborated between Janine Neethling and Zwai Bala evokes the emotions of joy, fear and overwhelming sadness, which just adds to this already magnificent musical. The team behind the creation of Soweto Story, includes Packed House Productions, Genna Lewis, Stephen Simm, Quincy Myeza and Deon Opperman. Tickets for this original South African musical can be purchased from Computicket.