After winning two London Olivier Awards (including Best New Musical and Best Performance ensemble honors), the South African musical Kat and the Kings shall be enthroned at Broadway's Cort Theatre. Previews begin Aug. 6 for an opening Aug. 19.
The Cape Town musical was the first South African musical to open in London since the advent of majority rule in South Africa. Based on the real life memories of the show's star, Sallie Daniels, Kat and the Kings offers a glimpse of the "Cape Coloured," or mixed race community of Cape Town, through the story of a talented but "non-white" young band that couldn't compete with apartheid.
The year is 1957. The setting, District Six, the "New Orleans" of South Africa where the local teens bop to the sounds of Fats Domino, imported by American sailors docking at the Cape of Good Hope. Kat Diamond is 17 and convinced that he's the best singer and dancer in the whole district. He and his band hit the big time for awhile -- before crashing down. Forty years later, Kat, now a street shoeshine man, reflects on his youth and his moment in the spotlight.
Kat and the Kings had several successful runs in South Africa and came to the West End via acclaimed runs at the north west London fringe venue, the Tricycle Theatre. The award-winning West End production ran March 23-Aug. 1, 1998 at the Vaudeville Theatre. It was a shorter-than anticipated run; the cast's desire to visit their families back home, and a slew of big musicals in London at the time, weighed against extending the show into the fall of that year.