The South African Musical

Norman Smuts’ The South African Musical is a most welcome and necessary addition to the canon of literature devoted to recording the history of South African theatre.

It is quite remarkable that South Africa has succeeded with its strong theatrical and choral traditions in the popular, universal world entertainment field that is the musical.
This reflects the culture and history of the various peoples of the nation. The form was also instrumental in changing the country’s political landscape.
This all-encompassing narrative displays the background to these achievements.
… the research is really impressive!
Janice Honeyman
Respected actor, writer and director of pantomimes and children’s plays



The book does for the documenting of original South African musical theatre what a

literature review does for the documenting of research in a given field. Smuts offers

an encyclopedic overview of the what, who, when and where of original South African

musicals, from what is commonly regarded as the first original South African musical

up until the present day.

Under the broad umbrella of “musicals” almost 200 original productions, reflecting

the wide cultural diversity of South Africa, are documented. They range across a

multitude of styles such as book musicals, musical plays, protest musicals, juke box

musicals, revues, pantomimes, cabaret and some productions in a category all of their

own. Also documented are the writers, lyricists, composers, directors, performers,

designers and producers, as well as the staging history of each production.

I salute Norman Smuts for the mammoth task it must have been to pull such a vast

and widely dispersed trove of information together, and do not doubt that it will be

read with keen interest by regular readers with an interest in South African theatre,

and also researchers of South African theatre history.


Deon Opperman, esteemed influential and prolific writer, director, actor and


ISBN: 978 0639 703 558