Taliep Pietersen, Successful South African Theatre Producer and Composer, Is Shot Dead in Robbery

Obituaries   Taliep Pietersen, Successful South African Theatre Producer and Composer, Is Shot Dead in Robbery
Taliep Pietersen, a successful South African producer and writer of musicals whose Kat and the Kings was seen on Broadway, was killed in a robbery Dec. 16 at his home in Athlone township outside Cape Town. He was 56.

Reuters reported that armed men robbed six members of Mr. Pietersen's family of cellular phones and other valuables and then locked them in their bedrooms. They then took Mr. Pietersen into the living room, tied him up and shot him in the neck, killing the composer.

Kat and the Kings, a musical revue about a fictional vocal harmony group in 1950s apartheid South Africa, played for three months on Broadway in 1999 after proving a hit in both South Africa and London's West End, winning two Olivier Awards for the latter production. The show is told in flashback 40 years later by Kat, now a street shoeshine man. Each performance ended with the cast whipping the audience into a participatory frenzy and then rushing to the lobby to shake hands, sign autographs and receive hugs and kisses.

Speaking to Playbill.com in 1999, Mr. Pietersen's artistic partner David Kramer said, "We were wanting to explore a particular aspect of Capetown's pop culture in District 6. And Kat is a story about a very talented vocal harmony group whose dreams weren't realized because of apartheid. Kat is a victim of apartheid, and we see him looking back." Kramer and Mr. Pietersen co-wrote the show, with Mr. Pietersen handling the music.

Other shows of Mr. Pietersen and Mr. Kramer included Poison, Spice Drum Beat—Ghoema, Klop Klop and their first success, District Six. Ghoema, which looks at early South African history, opened at the Tricycle Theatre in London on Dec. 11. The remainder of the London run will be dedicated to Mr. Pietersen.

"Taliep and I were very close," said Mr. Kramer. "He was my friend and confidante for many years. Although we came from very different backgrounds, we shared a similar vision: trying to tell South African stories with our stories and music."

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