‘Lucky’ uses the familiar storyline from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist but sets it in South Africa in 1954, specifically Sophiatown and Johannesburg.
‘Lucky’ is a gripping story of courage and redemption in the early days of apartheid South Africa.. The musical features the infectious music that gave voice to a remarkable period in South Africa’s history: a sound fusing the eclectic and urban sounds of big band swing, kwela and marabi.
‘Lucky’ is set in a segregated orphanage on the streets of Sophiatown. Scenes are set in its shibeens (unlicensed liquor stores), a boxing academy, a muti shop (traditional drug store), outside the Rand Club (a longstanding private members’ club) in central Johannesburg, a gold mine, a Houghton mansion in an affluent suburb and Johannesburg central train station. The final and dramatic scene takes place as the police and bulldozers tear down the suburb and raze Sophiatown to the ground.
Amongst the characters are Lucky himself (Oliver Twist) – an orphan boy. His father was a liberal white lawyer; his mother, a black legal secretary / freedom activist. Both were murdered by the oppressive ultra-racist National Party government. Fanigalo (based on Fagin) is a colourful black Sangoma (Witch Doctor) and criminal who presides over a gang of youthful pickpockets. Fanyana (The Artful Dodger) is streetwise black boy who befriends Lucky. Jaco Louw (Bill Sykes) is corrupt Afrikaans policeman and Fanigalo’s terrifying associate in crime, and Aneke (Nancy) is Jaco’s beautiful girlfriend.
On the streets of Sophiatown, you would see barbers, people washing, many playing the pennywhistle, cooking, singing, dancing, talking, gambling, fighting and partying. Sophiatown had its own extraordinary and unique culture drawing on the spirit of Africa, on music, art, politics. It became the centre of a literary and political renaissance through writers and freedom films, African Jazz and the creation of a unique slang - a mish-mash of English, and several native languages. There was a resistance mind-set and subversion of the racial laws. Th rulers despised the community and set about trying to destroy it. Against this our story plays out.
Lucky’ will be developed in collaboration with producers Rick and Sue Melville, two of the most successful entertainment entrepreneurs in South Africa.
Rick has enjoyed a vibrant career as creative entrepreneur in business. His has seen a career that has been underpinned by storytelling. He started out as an award winning conceptualiser and scriptwriter of corporate events. He then co-founded the award winning corporate film production house The Shooting Party before founding The Blue Moon Company in 1988. With Blue Moon having been built on a reputation for award winning B2B creative - and the introduction of Industrial Theatre to South Africa - Rick and Sue Melville sold out to a Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed group in the late 1990s. Along with Sue he then created his own upmarket (story driven) Safari brand Melvill & Moon in 2000. Rick and Sue founded Unplugged Communications in 2002 and formed Unplugged Storytelling as an independent entity in 2015.
With an honours degree in Drama from Natal University Sue became a founder member of The Loft Theatre Company in Durban. She was then accepted into Ecole du Internationale de Theatre Jacques Le Coq, Paris. The Le Coq school specialises in the art of physical theatre and is the worlds most respected proponents of this art form. At Le Coq Sue saw the potential of a physical theatre based in storytelling to transcend language, culture, education and other social divides. While working at the Blue Moon Company Sue saw the potential of applying what she'd learned at Le Coq in the Industrial communications environment. She and Rick named the solution Industrial Theatre and an industry was born. Post the sale of Blue Moon Sue founded Melvill & Moon and then Unplugged with Rick. Sue acts in the role of Executive Producer and Managing Director at Unplugged and heads up the business aspects of storytelling.