Some of you will remember Willy Russell’s heroine of the ’80s, Shirley Valentine. She played the West End and Broadway, won numerous accolades and was celebrated in film. Her name was Shirley Valentine, before she became Shirley Bradshaw, a middle-aged woman, lost in her role as mother to two grown children, and wife to a husband in a somewhat stale marriage. When a friend offers her a trip to Greece, a long-forgotten exuberance begins to bubble up in her. Shirley’s journey is a celebration of many a contemporary woman, balancing motherhood, marriage and self-actualisation. Shirley Bradshaw is the ‘original gangster’ of self-care and self-love – a beacon of empowerment. Long before we had hashtags, we had Shirley.
“We believe that what Shirley has to say is important. And it is more relevant than ever,” says Jaco van Rensburg from VR Theatrical. “My business partner grew up knowing the movie and it was his idea to option it. When I watched it – and later read it – I knew he was spot on! It is relatable, oh so funny and even more relevant today!”
The play will be directed by Gina Shmukler – a true lady of the theatre who has worked extensively in New York City and all over the world, but returned to SA stages a couple of years ago, juggling numerous other creative projects.
And who do you cast in such an iconic role? Someone who has done it all – been on Egoli and Scandal, knows and loves the theatre, has won awards, written books and lived life a little. Enter stage, Natasha Sutherland, who is “over the moon playing Shirley!”
Natasha Sutherland has been in the South African creative industry for over twenty-five years. Crossing between theatre and screen mediums she has portrayed a number of colourful characters including a pirate queen, a snooping journalist, a controlling mother, Cinderella, a mistress, and then the wife in the same play although (thankfully) spaced decades apart.
Her television credits include amongst others, M Net’s ‘Egoli’, ‘The Wild’, and currently eTV’s ‘Scandal’. In spite of all the
characters that Natasha has portrayed she’s prepared to admit that even if, (in the highly unlikely event), she’d be nominated for something like the Nobel Peace Prize, she’ll probably be remembered most for her role as the presenter who spoke to a donkey for a living in SABC’s iconic children’s program ‘Kideo’. She and Mr Chinwag will be irrevocably tied together forever, and she’s cool with that.
In addition to acting Natasha has had books published, written for a magazine column, produced live show DVD’s for EMI, and more recently adapted Tracy Going’s memoir ‘Brutal Legacy’ into a stage play. She started her acting career with NAPAC’s Musical Trilogy followed by two years at the Loft Repertory Theatre company.
Subsequently, she has worked for PACT, Pieter Toerien Productions, Kickstart Productions, Search For Productions, and the Market Theatre’s 2017 Children’s Monologues directed by James Ngcobo. Natasha has most recently been in ‘The Revlon Girl’ directed by Steven Feinstein, as well as ‘Brutal Legacy’ directed by Lesedi Job. Both plays were performed at TOTS and at the 2019 Hilton Festival.
In 2019 Natasha received the Mbokodo Award for Theatre, as well as a Naledi Best Actress Nomination for her role in The Market Theatre’s ‘Meet Me at Dawn’ starring alongside Pamela Nomvete. Natasha is thrilled to be working with VRT, and Gina Schmukler, and thinks it’s ‘double fit and mega brill…’ to have the adventure of playing Willy Russel’s ‘Shirley Valentine’.
Shirley Valentine will be on the boards at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre from 26 Jan – 13 Feb 2022. Performances from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 20:00 and matinees on Saturdays at 16:00 and Sundays at 15:00.
Ticket Prices range from R150 – R220 and are available through Computicket or at the theatre box office.
Parental Guidance is advised as the play deals with grown-up themes.
The duration of the play is 80 minutes with no interval.