All in the family for these ‘Pirates’

Brett Adkins

IT IS not surprising that the Von Memerty household must sound like a recording studio busy assembling a classic musical at the moment – The Pirates of Penzance runs in the showbiz family’s blood.

Mom Vivienne and daughter Kasvia are not only busy with the G&S Society production which opens in Port Elizabeth next week, but well-known dad Ian performed in a production of the stage hit back in the 1980s.

“The lyrics are tricky, but once you’ve got them they stick, so the songs have been popping up quite a lot at home,” quipped Vivienne.

Family outings on the stage are of course familiar to the Von Memertys – productions like Circle of Life and A Celebration have wowed audiences countrywide and earned them the appropriate tag of a modern day Von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame.

Vivienne, who is choreographer for the G&S show, said working with her daughter – who is playing one of the major-general’s daughters – on Pirates was different in the sense of not being side by side on stage, but that young Kasvia’s experience was shining through.

“What is wonderful is that she’s dance captain for the show, which is fantastic considering she’s only 13.”

But also not surprising when her father first included her and brother Oscar in a family show when Kasvia was only seven years old.

“We’ve been having terrific fun with the show – it’s a great production with wonderful material,” said Vivienne. “It’s happy and funny and has all these classic songs.

“And although it’s her first outing as director, Rose [Cowpar] has also brought her wealth of stage experience to the show.”

Vivienne said while she had choreographed a number of big productions with young professionals in the past and been a dance captain herself, she was working with a largely inexperienced group in Pirates.

“They’re not trained, so it has been a challenge, but they’ve been working really hard with the appropriate moves we’ve worked out, which has also allowed for some comical, fun business.”

Vivienne also choreographed the Theodor Herzl production of Aida, directed by Robin Williams – which featured Kasvia – earlier this year and starred in the G&S production of Evita last year as well as Fiela’s Child: the Musical, written by her husband.

Kasvia performed the title role of Annie in the 2010 Pemads production and joined her mother in the principal role of Nina in Fiela’s Child.

Pirates stars Jody Butler as the pirate king, Cuan Louw as Frederic, Liske Potgieter as Mabel, Len Sember as the major-general and James Smith as the sergeant of police.

It runs from Wednesday to November 9 at the Savoy Theatre in Adcockvale. Tickets are on sale at Computicket for R90, or R75 for the special family matinee on November 2. Call Rose Cowpar on 072-906-1977 for all booking enquiries.

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