I first heard South African tenor Timothy Moloi performing in an open air production of Shakespeare at the Johannesburg Zoo. His voice carried across to me at the back of the audience in that blustery, open terrain, and I knew that here was a talent I wanted to follow. So my excitement was great when I heard that Timothy was about to star as Aladdin at Joburg Theatre. I knew I had to see the show, and I was very happy when Timothy agreed to do an interview for this blog!
Born and raised in Orlando, Soweto; Timothy Moloi grew up in a home filled with song. It is this love for music, and his flair for infusing familiar and beloved standards with a new freshness, that has made him a favourite with audiences throughout South Africa. With his smooth-as-velvet voice and masterful range, Timothy is one of South Africa’s most extraordinary talents.
He returned to South Africa in 1999, having completed his studies at Ohio Wesleyan University in the USA. Since then Timothy has led a busy performance schedule, and has performed with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, the East Cape Philharmonic, the Electric Pops Orchestra, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, the Johannesburg Big Band and the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Timothy Moloi’s powerful acoustic versions of some of today’s biggest hits can also be heard online on YouTube, featuring his smooth renditions of some of the world’sbiggest songs. His videos have received more than 500,000 hits to date onYouTube
I was offered the role by Bernard Jay, from the Joburg Theatre, at the beginning of year. It was a wonderful opportunity and I did not hesitate to say yes!
What are highlights that audiences can watch out for in the show?
The show is a spectacle! Audiences can look forward to great costumes, amazing sets and lighting, wonderful performances, music and choreography, and of course Jeremy Mansfield as the wonderfully evil Abanazer!
What’s been the most fun working with this cast?
It’s a real ensemble piece and there’s been a wonderful sense of togetherness and supportiveness from each and every member of the cast which has made coming to work each day such a joy.
Is this the biggest theatre production you’ve worked on?
It is definitely one of the biggest productions I’ve worked on.
What’s it like working with this kind of music, lighting, special effects, etc?
It’s been a lot of fun. Especially because there’s such attention to detail and all the technical elements help us with our performances. We have an amazing technical crew behind the scenes who help create the magic! Our musical director is Roelof Colyn. He has done an amazing job with the music for the show and it’s a great privilege performing with him and our fantastic band.
You’ve got a star studded career in show biz here in South Africa having amongst many other things performed the song “Hope” at the OPENING CEREMONY of the FIFA 2010 WORLD CUP at Soccer City to an estimated global audience of 500 million viewers,Television performances have included the MTN SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC AWARDS, MISS SOUTH AFRICA, SABC3 JOBURG POPS, the SABC2/Sowetan COMMUNITY BUILDER OF THE YEAR AWARDS, the SA RUGBY AWARDS and the MNET “HEROES AGAINST CRIME” AWARDS, as well as several guest appearances on popular programs. You’ve sung for President Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, and King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at Douw Steyn’s private game reserve Shambala in the Waterberg. Describe the experience of singing in front of Nelson Mandela? What did you perform for him?
We performed a special concert for them as part of the World Summit in 2002. It was amazing because it was at such an intimate event, and Madiba had such kind words for us after the show. He has an amazing presence and it was a great honour performing for him and meeting him after the performance.
How different is it to sing on TV than in the theatre?
Live TV can be quite exciting, especially on large events such as Miss SA and the World Cup. But I love the immediacy of theatre. It’s great to feel the audiences response.
Which is your first love?
My first love will always be performing live in front of an audience.
I got a BA in theatre with a minor concentration in music.
Ohio is a far cry from Orlando. What was it like studying so far away from home? How did it come about that you would study in the States? Were there any teachers or lecturers who played a specific role in your life – who are your mentors?
It was a special experience studying in the USA, especially because that’s where I started performing professionally. I had a family friend who helped me with the application process to a number of colleges, and I chose the university that gave me the most financial assistance. There were many great lecturers, but my acting teacher Elaine Denny was the one who really helped me gain confidence on stage. I’ll be eternally grateful to her.
What was your first break into theatre and how have you grown since then?
My first break into theatre happened when I returned to South Africa in 1999, and immediately was cast by Janice Honeyman in her production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Joburg Theatre. It has been a really special experience returning to this wonderful theatre 14 years later to work with her again.
In South Africa we almost have a responsibility to encourage our youth to embrace their talents and create their own opportunities. My own son is 13 and enjoys being on stage but he is changeable, shy and has a bit of a lack of self confidence. What would you say to kids like him?
I would say practice, practice and more practice makes perfect! As performers we never ever stop learning and improving. The whole process takes time, so it’s important to be patient and to persevere.
Aladdin is currently running at the Joburg Theatre. It’s not to be missed.
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