Sarafina! the Broadway musical for Joburg Theatre

Author: JT Comms
Date: 11 Jun 2019

Joburg Theatre in partnership with Keeloz Global Entertainment will be re-staging one of South Africa’s most iconic symbols of the struggle for social and political freedom and justice, Sarafina! Directed by Nhlanhla Ngema and starring Noxolo Dlamini as Sarafina, this internationally acclaimed Broadway hit musical will run  from 19 July to 11 August 2019 on the Joburg Theatre’s Mandela Stage.


Sarafina! was originally  conceived by Dr. Mbongeni Ngema who wrote and arranged most of the music and lyrics, with additional songs by Hugh Masekela. As part of the succession plan, Dr Ngema has awarded the rights to produce Sarafina! to his younger brother, Nhlanhla Ngema.


Nhlanhla Ngema starred as Stimela SaseZola in the original theatre production of Sarafina! as well as the movie version. He has held principal roles in other Ngema productions including Magic at 4am, The Best of Mbongeni Ngema, House of Shaka and Asinamali, amongst others. In 1997, Nhlanhla was amongst the few South Africans who were cast in Disney’s original Broadway production of The Lion King in New York where he was one of the lead singers.


He has been an Assistant Director for various productions including Duma Ndlovu’s Bergville Stories, Mbongeni Ngema’s The Lion of the East and the Playhouse Theatre’s 2010 World Cup production Ingqayi-Ingqayi. While in the United States in 2002 he directed Woza Albert! at the La Mamma Theatre in New York. He was most recently assistant director on the productions of Sarafina! at the State Theatre and Joburg Theatre in 2017 and 2018 respectively.


“I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to direct this internationally acclaimed Broadway hit musical. I have always aspired to direct a big musical production and it is fantastic that my first big production is Sarafina! I am grateful to my brother, Mbongeni Ngema, for grooming me to realise my potential and giving me this opportunity,” says Nhlanhla Ngema.


Set against the backdrop of the 1976 student revolts against Afrikaans being used as a medium of instruction, Sarafina! follows the activities of a fictional class at Morris Isaacson High School. Told through story, song and dance, this proudly South African musical deals with the radicalisation of a young school girl, Sarafina, who becomes embroiled in the riots and is tortured by the South African police. She inspires her classmates with her commitment to the struggle against the apartheid government.


In the musical's explosive finale the students present a class play about the symbolic Day of Liberation they all dream of — when their hero, Nelson Mandela is released after decades in prison.


“It is befitting that South Africa’s most successful theatrical export return to the Mandela Stage for a second season at Joburg Theatre. As we have witnessed with past generations, this world class production is capable of re-igniting the belief within young people to overcome whatever challenges their generation has to contend with,” says Makhaola Ndebele, Artistic Director at Joburg City Theatres.


The powerhouse musical took Broadway by storm in January 1988 during Black History Month culminating in a two-year run on Broadway in Manhattan, New York City; and a 5-year tour of the United States of America. Concurrently a second cast of Sarafina! premiered in 1988, and went on a four year world tour which included the United Kingdom, several parts of Europe, Australia, Japan, as well as various countries in west Africa.


Sarafina! was later converted into a Hollywood feature film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo, Dr Mbongeni Ngema, Dr John Kani, and Dr Mirriam Makeba; with the sound track produced by Dr Mbongeni Ngema and Quincy Jones. This captured the imagination of the world and engraved Sarafina! as a symbol of African triumph and hope across the world.


The play was nominated for five Tony Awards, namely: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical and Best Direction of a Musical. It was later nominated for the prestigious Grammy Awards; and also won 11 NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) Image Awards in Beverley Hills. NAACP is an organisation based in the United States of America.


Tickets are now available from R145 on the Joburg Theatre website www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling 0861 670 670.


For more information contact:

Ntombi Mashaba at Joburg Theatre


011 877 6800

Joburg Theatre



For Media interviews, access to rehearsals, opening night, media accreditation, footage etc please contact JT Communication Solutions – media@jtcomms.co.za or (011) 788 7632


Issued by JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of Joburg Theatre – www.joburgtheatre.com

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