Backstage At Sister Act

Watching Janice Honeyman and the rest of the team behind the newest production of Sister Act rehearse behind the scenes prior to the commencement of the show is something that I will never forget.

I’m used to seeing the shows – having the golden thread tweaked by the stars of the shows. So are, I would imagine, most of the arts supporting public. But after watching the Sister Act rehearsals, I realised  how little I actually knew.

SA 7I’ve been to Joburg Theatre countless times. I’ve been there when I was a child and it was the Civic – I’ve been there while it was undergoing its transformation, and I’ve been there many times in the past few years. You could say Joburg Theatre has become as familiar to me as the street I live in. But I’d NEVER been backstage at the theatre until this moment, and – it’s like a WORLD back there that the public never gets to see. You go back there and there’s a sense of mystery, an austere sense of creativity and professionalism as you walk along the creaking floorboards past the ladies sewing the costumes, over the wooden boards and groaning screens where men are building sets, to the rehearsal area, where professionals are at work. You can get lost in a world where makebelieve is made there (I know, I did).  This world to me is almost as magic as the world the team creates there. 

SA 5There is an inestimable amount of work that occurs on a production before the curtain rises and the opening scenes happen. Costumes are prepared, sets are created, music notes are practiced and practiced again. Every single finite movement, word, tone, action – is suggested, directed, fine tuned, and done again and again and again. To see Janice Honeyman doing this in front of the cast of Sister Act – and them reacting to it – was like watching a fine conductor before the finest orchestra – bringing out the tunes and tones and movements until it became a flawless masterpiece.

Naturally enough it may not be much good if you’ve got a world class director working with a cast who isn’t world class, and I can safely say that everyone behind the curtain that day was WORLD class.  And when you realise that you are watching Janice Honeyman (active in South African stage and theatre since 1974) directing legend of SA arts Kate Normington, it’s hard not to go into overdrive as a passionate supporter of the arts, and I decided to seize the opportunity to get Janice’s autograph – even at age 40, I’m a celeb gazer, and I went hat in hand to Janice to ask for her signature. She was happy to oblige and I got this memento of that fantastic occasion.

Janice HoneymanI’m a businesswoman as well as a celeb enthusiast, and I realised that the lessons taken from these professionals could be well applied in business as well as in the arts. Janice Honeyman’s approach is one which can be applied in any industry – consummate professionalism down to the nth degree, but added to this, she is NICE. I could sense the rapport she had with the cast, and the sense of respect that emanated from them as they worked with her.

Kate Normington plays the role of Mother Superior and I got to closely observe her rehearsing with the young, talented and very funny Candida Mosoma (Deloris van Cartier) who came through Idols and has starred in other productions such as Dreamgirls.


Sister Act opened recently to excellent reviews from both media and members of the public. If you haven’t booked already, do so now as this one is going to sell out.