Cape Town Opera’s Show Boat —

Cape Town Opera’s Show Boat — Full steam ahead to the UK

Cape Town Opera’s highly acclaimed production of ‘Show Boat’ will visit Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Dublin in July and August

Cape Town Opera’s Show Boat —

show boat (Medium)Wales Millennium Centre will be presenting the first UK and Ireland tour of Cape Town Opera’s highly acclaimed production of Show Boat this July. The show will visit Birmingham Hippodrome (2-5 July); The Lowry, Manchester (8-12 July); Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (22-26 July) and Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre (29 July — 2 Aug).

Cape Town Opera is Africa’s premier opera company. Its soloists and chorus have won the acclaim of critics and audience members around the globe including the award for Best International Opera Chorus at the 2013 International Opera Awards.

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 & Bess and Mandela Trilogy. 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 the story from the old American South, rich with nostalgia, humour, love stories and well loved melodies such as ‘Ol’ Man River’ and ‘Can’t Help Lovin Dat Man’.

The story follows the lives of the performers, stage hands, and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River Show Boat, over a forty year period from 1887 to 1927. As a production 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. The rarely performed production reflects the situation of South Africa’s past whilst highlighting through Cape Town Opera’s talents, the bright future ahead.

show boat 2 (Medium)Cape Town Opera is a key training ground for gifted young singers, many of whom come from South Africa’s poorest communities. Maintaining an impressively varied repertoire of opera, operetta and musicals at home (from Monteverdi to Janacek and Gershwin to new South African commissions), the company also engages widely with rural communities and young people around South Africa. Since 2005, Cape Town Opera has showcased its finest vocal talents in a roster of touring productions which have brought the art of this unique company to the world.

The UK première and tour of Cape Town Opera’s production will feature more than two hundred period costumes which span the forty 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 production is under the direction of the award-winning Janice Honeyman. The company will be joined by the 30—strong, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.

Cape Town Opera managing director Michael Williams said, “We are thrilled to bring Cape Town Opera’s production of Show Boat to the UK for the very first time, with an exceptional cast, our award winning chorus and joined by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. This first UK visit of this production will showcase the talents of the company whilst offering a wonderful spectacle and experience for all the family.”

As strategic partners working together to strengthen cultural links between Wales and South Africa, Cape Town Opera’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.

Venues and Performances

The Hippodrome, Birmingham

Wednesday 2 — Saturday 5 July

Matinees 2pm Thursday & 2.30pm Saturday, Evenings 7.30pm


The Lowry, The Quays, Salford, Greater Manchester

Tuesday 8 — Saturday 12 July

Matinees 2pm Thursday & 2pm Saturday, Evenings 7.30pm


Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Tuesday 22 — Saturday 26 July

Matinees 2.30pm Thursday & 2.30pm Saturday, Evenings 7.30pm


Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin

Tuesday 29 July — Saturday 2 August

Matinees 2.30pm Thursday & 2.30pm Saturday, Evenings 7.30pm