You’ll ‘Feel The Earth Move‘! An exciting show is heading to Cape Town and Johannesburg, promising to deliver a fantastic theatrical experience, filled with heart and soul.

VR Theatrical’s Jaco Van Rensburg, and show director Elizma Badenhorst, sat down with Dean Roberts to talk about the exciting new tribute show that will be hitting Pieter Toerien’s Cape Town and Johannesburg theatres in October and November this year.

DR: Following up on the success of ‘Here’s To You – The Simon & Garfunkel Songbook’, what made Carole King’s catalogue so attractive to you?

JVR: Apart from her world-famous Tapestry album, Carole King is a fascinating artist who not only made songs famous herself, but who wrote or co-wrote very many hits that nobody knows was her. Remember Kylie Minogue’s Loco-motion? I bet you didn’t know that that was a Carole King song!

What ultimately drew us to her work, was the fact that her songs are story-songs. They are all like one-act plays that takes the listener on a journey of discovery, making it the perfect music for a theatrical event. 

VR Theatrical producer, Jaco Van Rensburg.

“Our diverse cast is not only excellent, but also lovely humans! It has been an absolute pleasure to create this production around their specific talents.”

DR: Carole King wrote more than 400 songs, 100 of which have hit the Billboard singles chart, how do you go about choosing the songs for the show? 

JVR: I am very lucky to not have to make the final decision here. I leave that to the creative team, although I may have had some opinions and made some suggestions.

EB: Growing up, I loved music from the 60s and 70s. I had no idea who wrote them, I just knew I loved them, later in life I learned that Ms. King wrote many of my favourites. Going through her body of work was equally challenging, as it was a familiar stroll down memory lane. Choosing the songs was, indeed, a delightfully difficult task of mammoth proportions. But I must say, the concept took shape pretty quickly, and once we knew we were ‘up on a roof’ overlooking a city, the songs metaphorically ‘put up their hands’.

‘Up On The Roof – The Carole King Songbook’ director, Elizma Badenhorst.

“Storytelling. These women have a gift of telling stories through their music that any human can relate to in such an authentic way. The human condition addressed, but with exquisite melodies and harmonies to boot.”

DR: Artists such as Adele, Amy Winehouse and Taylor Swift have all credited Carole King as being one of their biggest influences… can you hazard a guess as to what the through line is with these fine artists music? 

JVR: A good narrative. There are shoo-bee-doo-bee pop-songs and there are songs with lyrics like:

“When this old world starts getting me down

And people are just too much for me to face

I climb way up to the top of the stairs

And all my cares just drift right into space”

They’re relatable and timeless songs.

EB: Storytelling. These women have a gift of telling stories through their music that any human can relate to in such an authentic way. The human condition addressed, but with exquisite melodies and harmonies to boot. 

DR: Your promotional material highlights an all-woman cast of singer-musicians who all work together to create these magical soundscapes, what was the casting process like?

JVR: Casting an original production is always strange and wonderful. Because there is no script, we could mould and shape the production around the specific personality and talents that we find – and boy-oh-boy are these ladies talented! Six gorgeous proudly South African women who deliver these timeless songs with excellence!

EB: The casting process of an original piece such as ‘Up on the Roof’ is always interesting to say the least, because the show doesn’t exist yet; you’re not casting a performer for a specific character. But there are so many things to consider. Their skills, their musicianship, their personalities, how will all of them work together; it’s a very intricate puzzle, and I must say, we have built an exquisite cast with our six phenomenal cast members.

DR: Carole King has been called THE greatest songwriter of all time, and being responsible for penning the soundtrack to our lives. Why do you think these well-written songs have stood the test of time? 

JVR: She’s a great story-teller with an ear for writing a ‘hook’ – you know, that little bit of a song that gets stuck in your mind and that you can’t get out of your head.

Her themes are universal and timeless (often about falling in or out of love) and have emotional depth. While this all sounds very cerebral, her melodies are also catchy! I think the combination of all of these things make her music timeless.

EB: Ms. King has the ability to put words and melodies to universal feelings of love and loss, the ups and downs of life. We all know exactly what she’s addressing in her songs and most importantly, it then makes us not feel alone. 

DR: The music of Carole King is especially comforting, and with themes of love, relationships, and the idyllic notion of what ‘home means… how have you considered these themes when selecting the numbers as well as the ensemble cast? 

JVR: Our brilliant director, Elizma Badenhorst has come up with a clear concept that drives the overall narrative of the show. We did not want it to be ‘just another tribute show’ but rather to be thematically linked. Our musical director, Wessel Odendaal created original arrangements that emphasise the emotional impact of the songs.

Once the concept was established, i.e. a group of friends meet for a glass of wine on a ‘New York type’ rooftop and sing songs about their lives, the material sort of chose itself.

Our diverse cast is not only excellent, but also lovely humans! It has been an absolute pleasure to create this production around their specific talents. 

This production features a cast of six multi-talented female performers including Ashley Butcher (bass, guitar, ukulele), Louise Duhain (piano/keyboards), Angelica Hattingh (guitar), Sanli Jooste (cello), Neo Motaung (percussion) and Tiisetso Sefatsa (percussion).

DR: Could we perhaps argue that Carole King is the perfect everywoman figure: an alto singer (too low for soprano voice and too high for a tenor), the perfect mix for soul music? 

JVR: Yes! Unique is our Carole. Not only a brilliant songwriter, but also an exquisite vocalist in her own right, solidifying the singer/songwriter category in pop music history. 

DR: How are you aiming to marry the sublime sounds of Carole King’s catalogue, with the staging of such a dynamic ensemble presentation? 

JVR: The fact that we don’t have one person impersonating Carole King gives us scope to play with dynamic staging, interesting choreography and incredible vocal arrangements – all necessary to create an interesting piece of theatre.

Add to that a boho-chic inspired rooftop setting and theatrical lighting and you have a magic recipe for harmonic heavenliness!

EB: When the concept came to me, it all fell into place so seamlessly: six girl friends meeting up on a roof overlooking the city observing some people down below and commenting through Ms. King’s songs on what they possibly could go through, realising we’re all pretty much the same. 

DR: ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Women’ is a song that emphasises the route of self-discovery, of a woman’s natural inner beauty. How do you want the audience to leave the theatre ‘feeling’? 

JVR: Things are tough out there and people are tired. This production guarantees to make you forget your troubles for at least two hours, to fill you with hope, heart and optimism and will make you leave the theatre feeling happier than when you entered! I can only describe the experience as a warm, glowing ember that will ignite the fire we all carry within ourselves.

EB: Uplifted…. And I guarantee this is what audience members will feel. They are going to hum along, laugh, shed a few nostalgic tears, but will definitely leave feeling better about life.

DR: Who will enjoy this exciting piece of live theatre?

JVR: You do not have to know Carole King’s catalogue in order to enjoy this incredible production. There is so much to listen to, look at and appreciate, from the beautiful setting to the gorgeous harmonies and the amazingly talented performers onstage. If you are the kind of person who enjoys any kind of live entertainment, there will be something here for you! 

EB: This is one of the many things a love about Ms. King’s music. Whether you know her/her work, or not, you will enjoy her music. The range of styles this woman composed in is incredible: soul, folk, pop, rock, jazz, R&B and more. If you love music, you will enjoy this production.

‘Up On The Roof – The Carole king Songbook’ runs at Theatre On the Bay in Cape Town from 5 October and at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino theatre in Johannesburg from 1 November, 2023.

Direction & concept – Elizma Badenhorst

Musical direction & orchestration – Wessel Odendaal

Scenic design – Nadine Minnaar

Wardrobe co-ordination – Elizma Badenhorst

Lighting design – Kieran McGregor

Graphic design – Jaco Van Rensburg

Sound design – Christo Davis

Duration is approx’ 2-hours, including a 20-minute interval.

Age restriction: none.

Tickets are available from Webtickets or by dialling CPT (021) 438-3301 or JHB (011) 511-1988.

Booking link:

‘Up On The Roof – The Carole King Songbook’ brought to you by VR Theatrical.


Renowned South African dancer Camille Bracher is thrilled to be performing in South Africa again, after more than a decade. The former Royal Ballet dancer is performing with the cast of 11 professional dancers and 8 apprentice dancers from South Africa, in ‘It’s Beautiful At The Ballet’ currently at Theatre On The Bay until 4 December, 2021.

Bracher grew up in Johannesburg and came to dance at a very early age through her mother, a contemporary dancer and choreographer.

(Pictured) Camille Bracher photographed by Magda Hoffman.

Bracher’s repertory with The Royal Ballet included White Cat (The Sleeping Beauty), Entertainer (The Invitation) and roles in The Nutcracker, Onegin, Swan Lake, The Rite of Spring, Infra, Giselle and Scènes de Ballet. She created roles in Carbon Life, ‘Diana and Actaeon’ (Metamorphosis: Titian 2012) and Woolf Works. In summer 2012 she created a role in Hot House, part of One Big Stage with Gareth Malone and the Royal Opera House Learning and Participation Department.

PTP: You mention the thrill of returning to the stage after a year and a half, please tell us more about this break, and why have you decided to come back now?

CB: At the start of Covid I found myself without a job after working for two world-renowned dance companies. I was living in London and had rent to pay so I knew I needed to make a plan quickly.

I am also a qualified dance teacher and life coach and I knew that I needed to use these skills and adapt to the fluctuating circumstances that we were all living through. I decided to start teaching dance online and picked up a lot of students quite quickly. This was the beginning of my transition from stage to working online all day every day.

When things started opening up again I came back to visit my family in South Africa and got stuck here due to the red list being introduced in the UK. Whilst here, I was asked to take part in this production of Beautiful at the Ballet. Hesitant at first due to my break from stage, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to perform in South Africa for the first time since leaving at the age of 19 to join the Royal Ballet. As a dancer I always loved performing, feeling the adrenaline pulsing through me as well as the electric energy from the audience. Returning to stage gave me the opportunity to experience this all again. Stepping back into a dancer’s shoes again has also helped me to grown as a teacher and an artist which I can now pass onto my students.

PTP: What are you most looking forward to?

CB: After immersing myself into my dance coaching work, I did not think that I would dance again. I was at peace with this thought as I love coaching other dancers and helping them to achieve their dreams.

I am however excited to step back onto stage again and to experience that unmatched feeling of being transported into another world together with the audience. It is a magical world that enables you to use the music and the movement to escape together with the audience members into a completely different reality.

PTP: Tell us more about your special feature in ‘It’s Beautiful At The Ballet’ and what the fans can expect to see?

CB: One of the pieces that I will be performing is the Nutcracker pas de deux. The music is beautiful and it always makes me think of Christmas and my time at the Royal Ballet. The choreography is fun, but also challenging, with different turns as well as lifts that my partner and I have been working on.

We have also been rehearsing a pas de deux from Orpheus and Eurydice that Veronica Paeper has choreographed on us. It is always special to have something created on you. Expect to see some high lifts!

PTP: Besides being a dancer teacher, you are also a life coach, please tell us more about these roles? 

CB: Emotion drives our behaviour. Dancers, in their striving for perfection, often internalise their feelings in fear of appearing vulnerable. I therefore always felt it was imperative to address the emotions as much as the physicality of dancers.

Life coaching helps people to reach their full potential by finding their own solutions and developing their own skills. There is a lot of pressure and expectation on dancers. I am passionate about using my life coaching skills to help dancers reframe their thoughts in order to feel uplifted, inspired and in control of their own lives. This is essential for dancers to feel confident, happy and at ease. After 9 years of intense training and 8 years at the Royal Ballet and then touring with a modern company, I understand how to deal, sympathetically and empathetically, with the physical demands and psychological pressures that dancers are put under on a daily basis. Having experienced all of these situations myself, I understand how to connect with others to help overcome these challenges.

(Pictured) Camille Bracher photographed by Alex Fine.

PTP: What is your first recollection of your growing passion for dance?

CB: My passion for dance started from a young age when I used to make up dances for my family. I then started taking ballet lessons as a hobby to feed my love for dance. I met my teacher Martin Schoenberg at the age of 9 which is when I started to train more intensely in the hopes of turning my passion into my career. I took part in international ballet competitions and after finishing my matric (12th grade) I auditioned for the Royal Ballet and was given a place in the company.

PTP: What is the source of your inspiration?

CB: Tough question! I love to learn from anyone that I can. Marianela Núñez is the most incredible dance technician and such a hard worker. Being in the company with her was hugely inspiring. Alina Cojocaru was also in the company when I joined. She is a true artist who totally invests in any role that she does.

As a teacher, I have learnt so much from every teacher that I have come into contact with- from the start of my training with Martin as well as my time in the companies that I worked in. At both the Royal Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor, I was lucky to work with teachers from all over the world including France, America, Russia and Brazil. This has influenced my teaching and helped me to pass on essential knowledge and experience to al of the dancers that I teach.

What were your experiences of being a performer during the pandemic?

I was working for Company Wayne McGregor, a touring contemporary company, at the start of Covid. Obviously this came to an abrupt halt when Covid hit and borders were closed. We were actually performing in Germany just before lockdown started kicking in all over the world. I suddenly found myself jobless in London with rent to pay.

I had to act quickly and I therefore decided to start online lessons and build up my own coaching business. I always wanted to go into dance coaching to support dancers both physically and emotionally- I guess covid just fuelled the process. Teaching online has helped me to reach a much wider platform and connect with dancers from all over the world. It was a big transition going from working in a studio all day to now working through a screen all day. But I am so grateful to work with so many talented and ambitious dancers and to help them reach their own goals.

‘It’s Beautiful At The Ballet’ runs at Theatre On The bay until 4 December, 2021.

Tickets range from R180 to R250, and can be purchased from Computicket

Click HERE to book.