The Lowry will be one of only three UK venues, and the only venue in the North West, to stage Show Boat from Cape Town Opera - winners of the Best International Opera Chorus at the 2013 International Opera Awards.
Cape Town Opera, Africa's premier opera company, grace The Lowry’s stage for the first time in this rarely performed production which reflects the situation of South Africa’s past while highlighting, through Cape Town Opera’s talents, the bright future ahead.
The story follows the lives of the performers, stagehands, and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River Show Boat, over a 40 year period from 1887 to 1927.
Show Boat, which premiered on Broadway in 1927, has all the glamour and flourish of a big family musical but with a story that highlights the real life of people at that time, including the racial tensions that they faced.
Cape Town Opera’s South African base is a key training ground for gifted young African singers, many of whom come from South Africa's poorest communities.
Maintaining an impressively varied repertoire of opera, operetta and musicals at home the company also engages widely with rural communities and young people around South Africa.
Show Boat is directed by multi-award winning Janice Honeyman, whose musicals include Hair, Little Shop of Horrors and an original non-replica production of Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express in 2013.
Show Boat is the perfect showcase for the talented voices of Cape Town Opera – many of whom have visited the UK on previous tours of Porgy and Bess and Mandela Trilogy.
Janice Honeyman said: “Together with Porgy and Bess this is possibly the classical musical that has the most telling reverberations for the South African situation.
“It deals with haves and have nots, the arrogance of the advantaged and their ignorance regarding poverty and racial discrimination.
“There is the hope of change all the way through. But ultimately, as has been the case throughout history, while change is advantageous to some, for those most in need it is ultimately not experienced.”
Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, Show Boat is one of the first American musicals ever written. Created in 1927, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, it tells a story from the old American South, rich with nostalgia, humour, love stories and melodies such as Ol’ Man River and Can’t Help Lovin Dat Man.
Show Boat will feature more than 200 period costumes which span the 40 years featured in the musical from bustles and wigs to flapper dresses.
The set design will feature the talents of internationally renowned Johan Engels, who has worked with major theatre and opera companies across the world, including the RSC, Royal Opera House, Houston Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, as well as Welsh National Opera (WNO).
The company will be joined by the 30 strong Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.
Show Boat is presented in collaboration with Wales Millennium Centre.
The production has enjoyed a successful season in Africa and Europe and this tour is an extension of Wales Millennium Centre’s strategic partnership with Cape Town Opera.
The company’s collaborative projects with Wales Millennium Centre are part of a growing legacy of South African businessman and philanthropist Sir Donald Gordon, after whom the main auditorium at Wales Millennium Centre is named.
Show Boat can be seen at The Lowry from July 8-12. Call 0843 208 6005 or visit www.thelowry.com.