David Matheson

Jump to navigation Jump to search

David Matheson (1944-2005). Actor, director and musical director.


Born in Durban 3 May 1944, died in Cape Town 17 May 2005 after a long battle with diabetes.

He studied music in Durban before furthering his studies at the London Opera Centre and the Goethe Institute in Munich. He then went on to work with opera directors such as John Copley, Ande Anderson and Colin Graham. In 1975 he was invited to direct a season of four operas tor the Mississippi Opera Company in St Louis in the United States. When he returned to South Africa in 1976 he became director of the Vereeniging Civic Centre and later became head of music for the Drakensberg Boys' School and Choir.

In 1978, Matheson was appointed resident director with the CAPAB Musicals and Opera Department at the Nico Malan Theatre (now Artscape). His debut with the organisation was to direct his favourite musical, Fiddler on the Roof, followed by an equally highly acclaimed Show Boat during 1979. His production of Show Boat marked a first in South African musical theatre in that it was the first production with an integrated cast, which was to become a feature of Matheson's future castings.

Fiddler on the Roof was a very special show for Matheson as he had performed in the original production in Johannesburg in 1969, directed by Taubie Kushlick.

He was never too proud to work with amateurs whom he always regarded as "unpaid professionals".

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

A specialist director of musicals, Matheson worked throughout South Africa. Shows include The Great Waltz (State Theatre, 1987), Hair (1993), Gigi (1994). In the late 1990s he began to work with the Bloemfontein Children's Choir and directed huge casts for Eunice Girl’s High School in shows such as The Wiz (1997), The Sound of Music (1998) and Evita (1998).

A Midsummer Night's Dream 1981 singing coach; Twigs dance routine choreography by David Matheson.

Directed productions of Caesar and Cleopatra (St John’s Ambulance Theatre, 1968), The King and I (CAPAB 1982), Hello Dolly! (CAPAB Opera, 1987-8), Guys and Dolls (Durban 1971), Fiddler on the Roof (CAPAB 1971, 1979, 1984, Playhouse Theatre 1996, State Theatre 1997-1998), Evita (Playhouse Theatre 1995 and Artscape 1999), The Birds in Afrikaans {Die Hand Vol Vere) for PACOFS, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Annie ( Presented by Cape Town Opera in July 1997), Into the Woods, Mame (1994), My Fair Lady 1981, Peter Pan (1981 and Nico Theatre 1994), Show Boat, The Wizard of Oz, [[It's a Girl) (Paul Grant Productions from 26 January 1969), Kismet (CAPAB 1991), Camelot at the Port Elizabeth Opera House, 1994, Man of La Mancha (1986), Jesus Christ Superstar, The Wiz, The Sound of Music (NAPAC), The Great Waltz (NAPAC), Gigi (Omni Theatre), Annie Get Your Gun (Omni Theatre), Mame 1989.

Awards, etc.

In 1995 he received the Fleur du Cap Lifetime Award for his contribution to the industry.


[McM, TH].

Tribute written by Michael de Beer and Bruce Sanderson, published in Cape Argus, 8 June 2005.

Tucker, 1997. pp 459, 525.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities M

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page