Shanty Town Revue
Presented by Norman Ntshinga
Shanty Town Revue was Port Elizabeth's first all-African musical production and was staged at the Crispin Hall (at the bottom of Mount Road) on August 3 - 7, 1959, with all the proceeds going to the Cripple Care Society. It was inspired by the 1959 all-African musical, King Kong, and was billed as "Port Elizabeth’s own 'backyard' entertainers". All publicity and media reports had the name broken into three words. However, in the “Cue Notes” below, the name was written using two words.
ORGANISERS (From the programme)
Producer: Stanley Nathan assisted by Norman Ntshinga, Script and Storyline: Myer Kaplan, Musical Director: Mike Ngxokolo, Assistant Musical Director: Lent Whyte Nkomo, Sound: J N Bronkhorst, Costumes: Jessie Smith, assisted by Vida Giles, Rhoda Bronkhorst, Yetta Kantor and Mabel Ntshinga (nee Magada), Stage Director: M B Winterburn, Set Design and Construction: Rex Wentworth, Stage Crew: D Prinsloo, Décor: J N Bronkhorst, Assitant Décor: Mrs Crookson, Programme design: Jack Bronkhorst, 1962, Company Manager and Publicity Manager: Atwell Mrwetyana.
Mabel Magada, Humphrey Njikelana, Dennis Mnana, Shadrack, Rhoda Sokutu, Rosie (Rosy) Koloi, Gladys, Samuel Mate, Bennet Ntshoko, Tami Ntsele, Zola Nomngqokwama, Frank Manxoyi, Victor Nyangayibizwa, Sylvia Maphela, Gordon Naka, Nora Makhasi, Velile Nqondela, Lundelwa Pinuni, Stephen Mabiza, Graham Abrahams, Wesllington (sic) Peyi, Atwell Ntsele, Norman Ntshinga, Bingo, Mannetjie and Joe Daku.
THE SINGING GROUPS
The immense wealth of African musical talent is as yet untapped: musical productions, from the “African Jazz” and “Township Jazz” concerts which gave rise to “King Kong” and “Shebeen,” merely hint at the great wealth of talent. From the parched lands of the Reserves to the slush of the Locations stretches an unbroken vein of melody – indigenous as well as Western – for here is a people whose gift of song has enabled them to make music out of happiness, hardship, and heartache alike. Not only does the hidden talent exist, but there are many talented unknowns who yearn to be discovered, for they have learnt that a gifted artist can sing his way into all hearts and that he can rise through music to fame and fortune. “Shantytown (sic) Revue” is an attempt to depict, in a simple story, how much talent waits on discovery; all the artists have belonged up to now to the thousands of unknowns in the locations and shantytowns. The story of Norman the talent scout, and Humphrey who hopes to become a star could happen in any location. His eventual success, after many rebuffs, is the thread which links the different numbers and sequences. From the opening scene, in which a young man courts his girl friend in the traditional manner, and drives off the defeated suitor, through the shebeen in the location, to the park scene on the outskirts of town, and on to the final sophistication of the “Klub Kangaroo,” the thread of music and dancing is unbroken. Here are the authentic rhythms of African music which gave birth, in another continent, to Jazz: the jazzy rhythms of the location numbers – the umboloro and the nykitiki: all the lyrics of Tin Pan Alley, the folk songs of America and Africa which show the kinship of music all the world over, and the “hits” that are on everybody’s lips, from the “Stork Club” to “Shantytown.” d.a.b.
The Story of ACT 1
After the overture, the curtain opens on a traditional African scene in the rural areas. A young girl goes down to the river to draw water. While she is there, one of her ardent suitors arrives to woo her. He is sure he will enchant her to accept him because the witchdoctor has given him special herbs. He must chew these and then blow them in her direction. He draws a line on the ground in front of her. On one side, he says, is the river in which she will drown; on the other the Lion (himself). He asks her to consider carefully if she wants to drown or if she wants to come over to his side of the line. He is sure she will make the right decision because the herbs will help him. She thinks about it for a while. Then there is an act of acceptance when she takes off her ritual necklace and puts it around his neck. He kisses her – very pleased with himself! Just then his rival rolls up and the successful one, to prove his manhood, drives him off. Immediately arrangements are made for the wedding feast at which the guests pass around a tin of beer. They are led in song by the Master of Ceremonies, who could be the witchdoctor. The entertainers then take turns in a drunken fashion to amuse their fellow-guests. This is the end of the traditional scene.
As scene (ACT?) II opens we see the same people who have left the country for the bright lights of the city.
Scene I: Traditional Love Scene
Scene II: The Park
Scene III: An Interlude
Dennis Mnana singing Lucky Old Sun, Old Man River.
Scene I: Ain’t no Use. Norman is looking for Mabel’s Shebeen.
Scene II: Outside Sasa’s Shebeen
Scene III: Sasa’s Shebeen
Scene IV: Off to Klub Kangaroo
The Klub Kangaroo
Artistes in order of their appearance.
Welcome to the Club - Robert Ngqondela
More Than Ever - Sasa and Humphrey
I’m in the Mood for Love - Attwell Ntsele
There’s No One but You - Harmonairs
Thou Swell - Robert Gqondela
Stranger from the Shore - Mabel (Magada)
Route 66 - Maytones
It is Better to have Loved and Lost - Joe Daku
Gipsy in my Soul - Keynotes
Through the Years - Question Marks
Nearness of You - Mabel (Magada)
It’s de Lovely - Rhoda (Sokutu)
Nobangilizwe - Question Marks
Shanty Town Revue programme - 1959