Union High School

Annual Production 2018

Union High School’s production ‘Go the Distance’, written and directed by Avrille Putter and boasting a large cast of nearly 100 learners and crew, was a feast for the eye, ear and soul last week. The story, based on a young boxer, Zekiah Molope, brilliantly performed by Ikhona Koeberg, whisked the audience through the colourful streets, sheebeens and gyms of Sophiatown in the late 1950’s. ‘Go the Distance’ could have stood its own at any drama festival and those who were privy to the few hours of sheer energy, joyful song and dance, and clever witticism were in for a treat that way surpassed any regular high school production.

The show was cleverly narrated by Peter Watermeyer who held the story together with excellent acting and clear enunciation.
   In his likeable role as Frank, Peter clearly told the story of Zekiah – a struggling young boxer – who became a hero as he ‘went the distance’ against Duke Jackson – the reigning middleweight champion, also convincingly played by Damon Fouche.
Frank tells the story of Zekiah to a group of school children, led by Sima Desemela, who was aptly cast as Busi. This talented young woman add-libbed her way through the show, adding many an hilarious punch line, and drew the entire audience and cast along with her skill. Her naughly co-horts provided much hilarity as they formed their own sub-plot to the main story-line. What was clearly evident is just how much these young thespians enjoyed themselves – and even the supporting cast was engaged in their puns and witticisms as they came up with something completely new each evening!

Ikhona Koeberg moulded and shaped the character of Zekiah as the story developed. His execution of this sometimes vulnerable, sometimes comedic protagonist was remarkable, and the passion with which he fought and danced and loved and sang his way through the story made for many a ‘goosebump’ moment!

“Go the Distance” was a celebration of colour, dance and song! Janet Kingwill’s beautiful set design was the perfect backdrop to carefully crafted 1950’s costumes, many sewn by Colleen Ekermans who devoted hours of work and love behind the scenes.
Remarkably choreographed scenes included the miners’ dance which celebrated the beautiful voices of the senior boys, as they performed an earth shattering gumboot dance led by the powerful voice of Jason Beaumont.

The bus stop scene, led in rousing song by Zintle Maki, involved professional lighting effects that symbolized the dawn, with nostalgic photographs that transported the viewer into Sophiatown of old. The Wedding party was a riotous celebration of song and exuberance and absolute joy as the entire cast danced their way through ‘Mama Themba’s wedding.’

Zekiah’s final fight scene, professionally commentated by Cameron Muir and Amanda Brink as Bob and Janey, was a display of clever showmanship and lighting effects as he ‘went the distance’, surviving 15 rounds of ‘freeze frame’ choreography that was perfectly and timeously executed by the entire cast.
The calibre singing and acting was outstanding this year, with Bavuyise Hermans, Tracy-Lee Abels and Kay Koeberg taking on difficult solos with aplomb.
Ashwon Dawids had the audience in stitches as the local gang leader, Shakes – throwing in a bit of ‘Graaffrikaans’ for good measure too! Gym owner, Sam was convincingly performed by Olwethu Ngcai, while Taylyn Miller played the giggly, permanently positive Nancy. Rebecca Langmead took on the role of Gloria – the cynical, bossy shebeen queen who ruled the ‘Crazy Moon’ with an iron fist!
In her speech of gratitude to Avrille Putter after the final curtain call, Rebecca Langmead described her as ‘ineffable’ – meaning ‘too great or extreme to be described in words’. She said that the cast had arrived as amateurs and left as accomplished actors. That they had arrived as a cast, and left as a family.

‘Go the Distance’ is an example of a group of truly unified youngsters having a great deal of fun along with a copious amount of talent! Union High School can be congratulated on a sublime production that fills one with admiration and hope for the youth of our colourful nation!

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