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JUDGES 2019

MEL MASSYN - LET'S FACE IT

Born and bred in Pretoria, Mel has always had a passion for aircraft and radio. To the extent that as a child, he spent many a Sunday afternoon at the then Jan Smuts Airport, with him subsequently collecting boxes and boxes of black and white photographs that he shot, of aircraft taking off and landing.  And many of his school day afternoons were spent presenting a Top 20 countdown to a “pretend” audience, from the huge big radiogram in his parents lounge.

 

In pursuit of his childhood dreams, he answered an advert in the Financial Mail magazine for a position with Air France in Johannesburg.  And so began his long association with the airline industry.  Having relocated to Johannesburg for a sales position at Air France, he also had easier access to radio stations there. Ever on the lookout for a freelance weekend opportunity, Mel unsuccessfully auditioned on 13 occasions for a DJ position at Radio 702. Until one day he received a call from the News Editor, asking if he was keen to audition to be their Helicopter Traffic Reporter.  Finally his childhood fantasy became a reality. Over 1,000 helicopter flying hours and 5 years later at Radio 702, Mel accepted an airline opportunity with Singapore Airlines in Durban, to be their District Sales Manager.  Once again, he went knocking on the studio doors of radio stations in Durban and very soon landed a weekend DJ job on East Coast Radio – a position  which he thoroughly enjoyed for the next 10 years.

 

Ironically, on a Singapore Airlines flight to Australia, Mel got chatting to the passenger behind him, who happened to own a television production company in Durban.  Having grown tired of the corporate environment within the airline industry, Mel then swapped his collar and tie for a pair of jeans and a T shirt, as a Production Manager for TV Commercials in Durban. 

 

Wanting to work for himself, he identified an opportunity to supply cast to the film and TV industry.  And so in 2006, Let’s Face It was born.  Owning and running the company has gone on to been a very rewarding experience for Mel. Forging strong working relationships countrywide with advertising agencies and production companies, has allowed him to give thousands of performers from Durban the opportunity to experience real live on camera action. His biggest thrill is to be watching TV and to see his models popping up on screen as they appear in TV commercials, knowing fully what a difficult process it is, not only auditioning and being chosen for a role, but also being confronted with limited opportunities in both the film and TV industry.

 

Mel has since gone on to spend the last four years freelancing as a Casting Director in Cape Town, although his main focus remains the pursuit of suitable work opportunities for the amazing people on his Durban database, who have remained loyal to Let’s Face It for the last 13 years.

https://www.letsfaceit.co.za/

EVAN ROBERTS - MAKULU EVENTS

DUANE ALEXANDER - LAMTA

Duane hails from Pietermaritzburg and has been dancing and performing since the age of 6. He studied at the Waterfront Theatre School in Cape Town where he twice received the award for ‘Most Outstanding Student’. He also obtained his Performer’s Certificate in Musical Theatre, and teaching degrees in both Modern and Tap dance.

 

After graduating, he performed in, and was Dance Captain on, the Original South African cast and International Touring Companies` of CATS, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mark Cohen in RENT, Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, High School MusicAL, GREASE, CABARET, Bob Crewe in JERSEY BOYS, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Don Lockwood in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, ANNIE, and award-winning choreographer of the recent smash production of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.

 

Duane has worked as Resident Director and/or Resident Choreographer on many of the above-mentioned productions including CATS, CABARET, JERSEY BOYS, SINGIN IN THE RAIN, ANNIE, CHICAGO, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, EVITA and as the Children’s Director on THE SOUND OF MUSIC. He is currently working as an Associate Resident Choreographer on MATILDA - The Musical as well as the Co-Director of the newly established Performing Arts School in Cape Town called the LUITINGH ALEXANDER MUSICAL THEATRE ACADEMY. www.lamta.co.za

 

Instagram: duanealex27, Lamtacademy, musicaltheatreworkshop

Twitter: @duanealex, Lamtacademy, musicaltheatreworkshop

ANTON LUITINGH - LAMTA

Anton Luitingh has been involved in many facets of the entertainment industry, working as a director, actor, singer, songwriter, musical director, musician and voice artist. He obtained his B.Dram (Hons) Cum Laude degree in Drama at the University of Stellenbosch and has since performed on locals and international stages in various genres.

 

Lead roles include performances in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, GREASE, the International Touring Company of CATS, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, SHOWBOAT, Pontius Pilate in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, the Beast in Disney’s smash hit Broadway musical BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, PORGY AND BESS, NOAH OF CAPE TOWN, EVITA, and SUNSET BOULEVARD, Daddy Warbucks in ANNIE, and reprising his role as Pharaoh in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.

 

Anton has been Resident Director on many professional productions including PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, RENT, CHICAGO, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, EVITA, JERSEY BOYS, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, & ANNIE and is currently the Resident Director of  MATILDA - The Musical. Anton is also the Co-Director of the newly established LUITINGH ALEXANDER MUSICAL THEATRE ACADEMY in Camps Bay. www.lamta.co.za

 

 

Instagram: anton_luitingh, Lamtacademy, musicaltheatreworkshop

Twitter: @Luitingh, Lamtacademy, musicaltheatreworkshop

TORY DU PLESSIS -

CHERRY BLOSSOM MUSIC

Tory has been performing professionally since the tender age of 18, and has over 15 years experience in directing, performing and teaching. A proud Durbanite, she holds a Bachelor of Music from UKZN, and has a passion to see young, talented performers discover their potential.

Over the years she has built a resumé which includes many performances at Durban’s local theatres & supper theatres, as both performer and musical director. She has been involved in projects with local artists as keyboardist and backing vocalist, and was a member of Take Five, a Durban collaborative of maestros who were nominated for best musical act award at the Durban Theatre Awards.

She is head of music at both Virginia Prep and Danville Girls High School.

Tory has a keen eye for uncovering and nurturing talent. As owner of Cherry Blossom Music in Durban North, she not only teaches her students, but functions as a mentor to young performers on their journey and pursuit of a career in the performing arts.

https://www.cherryblossommusic.co.za/

ANGELA VALVERDE-RIEKART

ANGELA is an American from Sacramento, California who brings over almost three decades of experience in the entertainment industry to South Africa. She first stepped on stage at the age of seven and has been in practically every aspect of the industry since those early years. (Acting, Singing, Stunts, Stand in, Body double, Voice Over’s, and Music Writing, etc.) She started her singing career as a young protégée for the famous Dan Truhitte who starred in the film “The Sound of Music” as the young Rolf, and ever since found her passion in the arts.

 

 At the age of 14, she was the youngest artist on the Christian album “For such a Time as this.”  She continued her singing career all over the world being a back-up vocalist for many celebrities, cruise ships, amusement parks, hotels, and casinos.

 

Angela has also been a talent manager in America and successfully created and ran actor’s courses in Austin Texas, and as well as Las Vegas, Nevada. She loves to give back by Producing and Directing for local charities. She has been spokesperson/Presenter for “The New Freeze and Shape” product as well as “SA’s Top Carpets and Floors.” She is also in 2 movies coming out in theatres this year 2017.

 

 OCA Acting Studio was created over 4 years ago here in Durban to encourage and help those who want a career in the Industry; and even help those who are shy and just need the self-confidence to get ahead on life! “I’m so excited to inspire and share my experience, and help those that want to fulfill their dreams in the entertainment field. I want to open their eyes to a new way of thinking for acting!

 

Our classes range for all ages 4 years of age all the way to adults 99+. Acting is for any age, & it’s never too late or too early!”

 

We now welcome our new Talent Management company OCA Management, here in Durban; where now a seasoned veteran of the Industry at 45 years of age, Angela can now focus on helping her students branch out and book jobs as actors. She is also a Casting Director, and all three companies tie in perfectly to help her students reach their full potential and accomplish their acting dreams!

https://www.ocastudio.biz/

BLESSING XABA

Blessing Xaba is a South African actor, journalist and web-video personality. Blessing graduated from high school in his hometown of Durban, where he studied Dramatic Arts, all the while training in musical theatre. While a member of The KZN Young Performers Project, he was cast on stage as various chorus cameos, or as Miss MotorMouth Maybelle in Hairspray (2010) or as Horton, in Seussical a year later.

 

He then appeared in the successful film trilogy, Spud, as the loveable glutton, Sidney ‘Fatty’ Scott.

He has since taken on smaller screens, starring in Mzansi Magic’s The Road (2016), SABC 3’s Hard Copy (2017), and Tarryn & Sharon (2018).

Blessing’s most recent ventures include his new YouTube channel, that has grown to almost 65,000 subscribers, along with a newfound passion for Journalism. He is now enrolled for his undergraduate in journalism and media, following the pursuit of a passion project turned full-scale Documentary, Ms Trans Diva which he co-directed for e-TV (2018).

Blessing is ever ready to take on a new challenge, and execute it with the curiosity and creativity he has become known for by his peers, fans, students and mentors.

ROEL TWINSTRA - AFDA

Roel Twijnstra is a theatre director, producer, a lecturer and writer originally from the Netherlands.  He started his career in 1981 after internships with Peter Brook (France), Peter Stein (Berlin) and Viola Spolin (Hollywood). 

He produced more then 100 theatre productions, In the Netherlands, US, Russia, Nepal, and different African countries like Morocco, Guinee, Benin and Uganda.  Since 1999 he directed national and international theatre shows in South Africa.  For theatres and festivals like NAF, KKNK, PACOFS, Soweto theatre and Artscape.

He is the founder and director of TWIST projects an organization that is focusing on the development of the theatre industry in KZN, an organization he manages together with Emma Durden.

He is the author of 5 books about theatre and film. The last three published in South Africa, one on Theatre directing, one on Producing for theatre and the most recent one on Acting for Stage and Screen in South Africa.

Currently he is the Head of Live Performance at AFDA Durban and focusing on the development of a South African Screen acting methodology  in collaboration with the Film and TV Industry in KZN.

He is based  in Durban since 2011, married with Actress, Singer, Playwright and Novelist Philisiwe Twijnstra and the proud father of their daughter Nondalo.

He was knighted by the King of the Netherlands in 2017 and given the Royal Dutch order “ Knight of Oranje Nassau” for the cultural exchange between South Africa and the Netherlands and international artistic excellence.

PREV REDDY

Having done his first big musical at the age of 16, Prev has been bitten by the entertainment bug for as long as he can remember.

In 2010 he worked with Durban Theatre veteran Themi Venturas on the Durban production of Hairspray, fast forward to 2014 and he had worked on 4 major productions in Durban, including Seussical The Musical directed by Naledi winner, Steven Stead, Prev also played the title role in Disney’s Aladdin JR.

 

He then took a break to start his B.A degree but along the way found himself getting involved in comedy. Prev started stand up comedy in 2016 and toured his first one man show “Wait, you’re Indian?!” around KZN. After the tour, he began doing gigs around Durban.

 

In 2017, Prev moved to Johannesburg and started doing slots at Parker’s Comedy Club and The Box. He later worked on “It’s Okay, We’re Family with David Kau” on SABC3 which also featured Mark Banks where he made a cameo on the show as himself. In June 2017, his second one-man show “Can’t I Just B.E.E” opened in Durban’s and then at PopArt in Johannesburg, to sold out audiences for both shows.

 

In 2018, he made the Top 15 Durban Call Backs for the SABC3 Presenter search, Top 5 Durban for the MTV Base VJ Search and was selected as one of the newcomers to perform at the Savanna Comics Choice Awards which was televised on Mnet. 2018 was a big year for Prev as he landed a recurring role on ETV’S Imbewu – The Seed and saw his online videos go viral. He now has a following of over 50 thousand South Africans on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. His videos reach South Africans all over the world, with videos garnering over 70 thousand views per video.

 

2019 has been a busy year of appearances and stand up comedy (Including the 4 Musketeers Show alongside Maeshnie Naicker & Rahul Brijnath) He was also a presenter on MegaZone Bollywood and most recently a top 10 finalist for the 5FM new Presenter Search.

MUSA HLATSHWAYO

Musa Hlatshwayo was born and raised in Maphumulo and currently stays in Durban where he works with his company Mhayise Productions. He is a performing artist, choreographer and creative/artistic director under his own company; Mhayise Productions.

 

Some of his major achievements include; the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance for the year 2018, an honorary Award ‘The Eric Shabala Dance Champion Award’ by the CCA and Jomba in recognition of his contribution to the development of dance in KZN, choreographing the official opening parade of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, choreographing the opening of the 10th CAADP and many other major events, extensive tours in Africa, the Indian Ocean’s Islands, the UK, Europe, America and multiple prestigious awards in recognition of his performance work and choreographic work.

 

He is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu Natal and the Copenhagen School of Modern Dance with a post-graduate certificate in Dance in Education (UKZN), an Honours Degree in Performance Studies (UKZN) a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communication Studies (UKZN) and a certificate in Dance and Choreography (Copenhagen School of Modern Dance).

© 2019 Project Performer