THE GREAT WALTZ - 1975
 
 
In November 1975 besluit TRUK om in die voetspore van sy groot sukses Kismet te volg. Dennis Reinecke van TRUK het persoonlik die regte in die VSA by Edwin Lester bekom en voer so The Great Waltz op wat gebaseer is op die musiek van die bekende Strauss-familie.
 
Op 12 November het die produksie in die Johannesburgse Stadskouburg geopen. Barbara vertolk die 'junior hoofrol' van die bakkersdogter Resi. Sy sing onder meer saam met die bekende Amerikaanse diva-sopraan Jean Fenn, Lawrence Folley en Michael Renier.
 
Die rolverdeling van die hoofkarakters was soos volg:
 
Helen Vernet - Jean Fenn
Johann Strauss Sr - Lawrence Folley
Resi - Barbara Veenemans
Schani / Johann Strauss Jr - Michael Renier
The baker Ebeseder - Kerry Jordan
Hirsch - Peter Elliot
Dommayer - Gwilym Evans
Hartkopf - George Kok
En vele andere …
Regie en ontwerpe - Anthony Farmer
Dirigent - Leo Quayle
Kostuums - Neels Hansen
Choreografie - Jeffrey Sutherland

Alle fotos is deur Bob Martin geneem

 
 
'n Paar statistieke en feite oor die produksie:
 
Daar was ondermeer 'n 50-stuk orkes en 'n koor van 60 en 25 dansers. Agter die verhoog was 'n hele klein 'stadjie'; dertien verskillende dekor stelle in drie dimensies, wat wissel van Weense strate en die skaduryke Weense woude. Dit was prag en praal net waar jy gekyk het. 'n Hele 350 uitrustings is ontwerp, genoeg om 'n materiaal winkel vol te maak. Oor die 200,000 kandelare moes gemaak word. Die duurste kaartjie op 'n Saterdagaand het R 7,25 gekos. En om alles te kroon het oor die 80,000 mense hierdie produksie bygewoon!
 
Jeanette Keill skryf in 'n koerantartikel die volgende oor Barbara onder die opskrif SINGER WITH JOIE DE VIVRE die volgende:
 
" 'I wish I could be everybody's audience because I go to a show to enjoy myself and I am not embarrassed to show my feelings', says Barbara Veenemans, who is to play Resi, the baker's daughter in The Great Waltz, due to open on November 12. It is a fun part, which suits my voice, and I love doing comedy. Barbara is also fun to interview, as her natural exuberance and joie de vivre come across without restraint. 'I started singing at the age of three, in church, but my proper career, has only been going since I married nine years ago. Even so I only accept parts when it suits me, as I have small children and I don't want to leave them too often'.
 
Since then, she has appeared in several big roles in 'Don Giovanni', Marriage of Figaro' and 'Die Fledermaus', which she enjoyed thoroughly. Does she take her job seriously? 'I do, but singing to me is not a job, but a pleasure. Once it stops being that, you must give it up'.
 
Even though she prefers traditional roles, she is looking forward to appearing in Janaček's 'Jenufa' next year. 'It is a modern opera. I have a very small role, playing the burgomaster's daughter. Although it is difficult it is also very beautiful and suits my voice.'
 
Does singing in two languages worry her. 'I don't think so, I am used to it and I think it is good for one to adapt'. Who is her favourite leading man? 'I get on with everybody. Throwing tantrums only dampens the rest of the cast. I don't believe letting people ride over me, but you can usually settle any problem by discussing it intelligently and even firmly, if you have to.
 
Luckily we are a very happy family at PACT. I love working with Lawrence Folley and Gé Korsten who are always helpful and our leading lady for the Great Waltz, Jean Fenn is a tremendous person. She oozes charm and she has a beautiful and warm voice'. Is her married life as smooth as her working one? 'My husband, a major in the Air Force, is a marvellous person who encourages me, but nevertheless, is my most outspoken and honest critic".
 
Wouter de Wet skryf in Die Transvaler op 13 November 1975 onder die opskrif WALTZ: SKOUSPEL VAN DIE DEKADE. Sy beskrywing van die grootsheid van die produksie word soos volg opgesom:
 
"... Gisteraand het Johannesburg amper-amper sy grootste teater-triomf van die dekade gesien. Nie dat The Great Waltz nie dalk nog TRUK se skouspelagtigste aanbieding kan word nie: sodra 'n paar produksieprobleme uitgestryk is en Anthony Farmer se ingewikkelde dekor glad 'werk', sal hierdie musiekblyspel een van die opwindendste teaterondervindings wees wat nog in die goudstad gesien is. Sowat van dekor het ons nog nie gesien nie. Pragtig, smaakvol en groots ... Barbara Veenemans en Michael Renier tree op as die jong Strauss en sy geliefde Resi. Albei het hul rolle simpatiek vertolk, goed gesing en gespeel en baie tot die sukses van die aand bygedra. Hulle duet van die eerste bedryf tel onder die hoogtepunte ... "
 
Thys Odendaal skryf in sy resensie van 14 November 1975 [koerant onbekend] onder die opskrif MEESLEURENDE WALS, die volgende:
 
"The Great Waltz is een groot, heerlike wals! Nà al die reklame wat aan TRUK se musiekskouspel gegee is, het 'n mens met groot afwagting na eergisteraand uitgesien. En laat dit sommer uit die staanspoor duidelik wees - The Great Waltz is 'n skouspelagtige aanbieding, 'n aanbieding wat in omvang seersekerlik een van die grootstes op 'n Suid-Afrikaanse verhoog moet wees ... Barbara Veenemans as Resi, die bakker se dogter het haar knap vertolking in Die Fledermaus vroeër vanjaar hier voortgesit. Ook sy besit 'n besondere verhoogpersoonlikheid en haar optrede getuig deurgaans van 'n suiwer aanvoeling vir die soort van aanbieding ..."
 
Johan Liebenberg van Die Vaderland skryf op 14 November 1975 die volgende onder die opskrif TRUK UITMUNTEND MET GREAT WALTZ:
 
"Die staande ovasie wat TRUK se skouspelagtige aanbieding van die immergroen musiekspel Woensdagaand ontvang het, was welverdiend ... Lawrence Folley en Barbara Veenemans het ook 'n reuse aandeel in die verdere sukses van die stuk. Hul sang en spel is uit die boonste rakke ... The Great Waltz is 'n fees vir die oog en oor en die finale is seker een van die skouspelagtigste tonele wat die skouburg nog beleef het. Dit is die ideale Kersgety-vermaak vir oud en jonk en wat die ou jaar op heel gepaste nostalgiese wyse afsluit. Dit kan sterk aanbeveel word".
 
In 'n resensie word die volgende geskryf onder die opskrif TRUK SE GROOTSTE [koerant, skrywer en datum onbekend]:
 
"... Wat sang betref, het Michael Renier met sy liriese tenoorstem en Barbara Veenemans die beste ingepas by hierdie lughartige blyspel ..."
 
Die Sunday Express van 16 November 1975 dra die volgende resensie [skrywer onbekend] onder die opskrif INFLATION NO HITCH FOR 'GREAT WALTZ':
 
"... Although her role as the baker's daughter lacks the bravura quality of the acclaimed opera star played by Jean Fenn, Barbara Veenemans bestows an engaging liveliness on all her scenes. Whether in solos or harmony, the singing of all four leads is good …"
 
Len Ashton skryf in sy resensie met die opskrif GLAMLOUR GLITTER AND GOLLY [koerant en datum onbekend] die volgende:
 
"This is an Extravaganza. Stunning costumes, sets of mind-boggling complexity and it certainly looks like a cast of thousands. One long chorus of oohs and ahs punctuated by breathless silences as sizeable chunks of Old Vienna and walk-about - occasionally imperilling the gallant cast. His (Michael Renier) iamorata Barbara Veenemans skips about with vivacity and sings her encouraging love with a will. They are particularly engaging together in the Artist's Life sequence".
 
Joubero Malherbe skryf in haar artikel oor die Veenemans-soprane in die UNISA Publikasie in haar reeks Personalia (Ricordare XXXI) die volgende oor die spesifieke produksie:
 
"Die ligte verdof. 'n Helder kollig volg die dirigent, Leo Quayle, geklee in 'n ligblou manelpak, tot by die podium van die Stadskouburg in Johannesburg. Wanneer die eerste note van Johann Strauss (Jnr) se musiek opklink, begin die 80 kerse van die kroonkandelare flikker teen die keurig gedrapeerde goue fluweelgordyne. Soos die musiek groei in intensiteit skuif die gordyne oop en bevind ons ons in Wenen in die vrolike Biedermeier-tyd wat Anthony Farmer in sy dekor vir The Great Waltz vasgevang het. Op die verhoog wemel dit van die allermooiste krinolien rokke en van mans in deftige manelle met reuse jabots en strikdasse alles ontwerp deur Neels Hansen. Resi, die dogter van Ebeseder, die bakker (geklee in 'n sagte pink rok met talle onderrokke) was die liefling van Johann Strauss (Jnr) of Schani, soos hy genoem was ..."

 



Photo above: Barbara Veenemans featured on the right in the ball scene



Photo above: The kitchen scene with Barbara Veenemans, Kerry Jordan and Michael Renier



Photo above: from Left to right: Barbara Veenemans, Michael Renier, Jean Fenn and outside Lawrence Folley and the ballet girls



Photo above: Left Jean Fenn, Lawrence Folley, Michael Renier and Barbara Veenemans



Photo above: The Great Waltz 1975 - The Ball Scene - Barbara Veenemans stands at the far right



Remarks by Bob Martin the photographer of the photo above:

Source: Bob Martin Photographer at www.flickr.com

"A challenging shot “on the run” - the cast of PACT’S 1975 production of  ‘The Great Waltz’. Featured in the front row from left to right they are:

James White, Eugenie Chopin and Peter J. Elliot, Jean Fenn and Lawrence Folley, Ken Yeatman and Claire Robins, Barbara Veenemans and Michael Renier, Bruce Anderson, Kerry Jordan, Gwilym Evans and George Kok.

The Great Waltz is a stage and screen musical which uses themes by Johann Strauss I and Johann Strauss II. It débuted on Broadway in1934 and ran for 289 performances. In 1938 MGM made it into a motion picture and many years later, in the 1970s, with lyrics and musical adaptation by Robert Wright and George Forrest, the musical was again produced on the London stage and in a film remake.

The original stage production featured lyrics by Desmond Carter, while the 1938 film had a new look and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The London production opened at the Drury Lane Theatre 1970 and ran for 605 performances.

The story of the show is loosely based on the real-life feud between the older and younger Strauss, allegedly because of the father's jealousy of his son's greater talent.

In 1975 The Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT) produced a South African version of the lavish stage musical The Great Waltz. This was the ambitious brainchild of the legendary and fabulous designer Anthony Farmer. It required a huge cast of singers, dancers and actors which was drawn from PACT’S enormous stable of wonderfully talented people. In the lead, however, they imported the wonderfully glamorous American star Jean Fenn.

It was a huge box office success. Our production featured some quite innovative staging for that time, one such was, taking the PACT orchestra’s maestro, Leo Quayle and his entire orchestra out of their usual obscurity in ‘the pit,’ and relocating them onto a high rostrum on the stage with the cast, for the grand ball room scene.

Months before rehearsals started on The Great Waltz, I was asked to stage an advance publicity photo-call. To this end we obtained permission to use the opulence of Pretoria’s recently closed, derelict Capitol cinema’s marble-floored foyer.

After a gang was brought in to scrub it, clear all the cobwebs and generally restore it to a semblance of its former grandeur, Tony Farmer the designer, cleverly raided the props and furniture store out at the Kilnerton headquarters in Pretoria and selected all sorts of bits and pieces to dress the scene. The result of this genius is, that it resembled a grand ballroom perfectly. My friend Nick Michelitos brought in masses of light and so we built our mock-up scene.

The foyer had a wonderful upper balcony, which I used for a sensational bird’s-eye vantage point and view of the twirling, waltzing dancers below. I also purposely used a very slow shutter-speed so as to accentuate the movement of the dancers.

Contrary to my ambiguity, these mocked-up publicity pictures were such a great success that one of them was incorporated and was actually used on the front cover of the super glossy souvenir programme.

One aspect of my sometimes difficult job on these huge productions was the publicist’s insistence of having “long-shots” and “action shots”of the entire cast on stage. With so many people on stage it was not always easy to control and also never properly lit for the camera. These photographs gave me many anxious moments in the darkroom, so, rather than having them pose for these difficult shots I just asked the whole cast to ‘run it’ and I would literally shoot ‘in the run.’

This picture of the whole cast in the grand ballroom scene, was one such challenging shot."










In 2015, Barbara Veenemans visited an exhibition of designer Neels Hansen's costumes at the University of Pretoria. Here she stands at Jean Fenn's costume she wore in the Great Waltz 1975. See photo below to compare!



 

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