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Township Flute comes to West End

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

The Young Vic production of The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo transfers to the Duke Of York’s on 11 February for an eight-week West End run.

The production, a reimagining of Mozart’s opera performed by a company of 35 singers and musicians from the Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, is currently running in repertoire with A Christmas Carol – Ikrismas Kherol at the Young Vic until 19 January. The two shows are adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May, a British-born director based in South Africa, for the theatre company he created, Isango/Portobello. After premiering the shows at Cape Town’s Baxter theatre earlier this year, the company began performances at the Young Vic on 20 November.

The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo is faithful to Mozart’s opera in story and score, telling the tale of Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, from the Priest of the Sun. However, the music is played on marimbas, drums and percussion rather than traditional orchestral instruments, and the lyrics incorporate the various languages of South Africa, including English.

The 35-strong cast includes singer, actress and writer Pauline Malefane as the Queen of the Night. Malefane has film credits including The Son Of Man and U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, both directed by Dornford-May, and has previously appeared on stage in London in The Mysteries, another Isango/Portobello production which played at Wilton’s Music Hall, and Generations at the Young Vic.

The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo is booking at the Duke of York’s until 19 April 2008.

The news means the musical Rent, which is currently occupying the Duke Of York’s, will be departing the venue in the new year. The final performance will take place on 2 February. em>CB


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