Legend Letta Mbulu talks 'King Kong', SA's iconic '50s musical making a comeback

South African musical King Kong is returning to the stage, more than 50 years after it made its first debut.

King Kong premiered in 1959 and later moved to the West End in London during the dark days of apartheid South Africa.

The musical tells the true story of 1950's heavyweight boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini who gave himself the ring name “King Kong”.

It was the country's first black musical and the remake will show at the Fugard Theatre from 25 July and heads to Johannesburg in September.

Music legend Letta Mbulu says that she was just a teenager when she toured with the original production.

King Kong was the first musical production to come out of South Africa with beautiful, talented artists and a great story.

Letta Mbulu, music legend

She explains that parts of the story had to be censored when it was performed, because of apartheid laws.

The music star says she hopes that the new cast will be able to do the story and production justice.

There are a lot of things that were left out in the story.

Letta Mbulu, music legend

I'm hoping that we could tell it the way it should have been told.

Letta Mbulu, music legend

The musical was instrumental in the careers of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and other music icons, Mbulu recalls.

I learned a lot and gained a lot of experience by being in King Kong. I was surrounded by very professional people.

Letta Mbulu, music legend

King Kong means a great deal to me.

Letta Mbulu, music legend

She described how she was cast in the production and what it was like working with Makeba, Masekela and others.

We were all struggling artists trying to make it... Hughey played in the band that was backing up the production and Miriam was leading lady. She was amazing and held the show together so much. We were in awe.

Letta Mbulu, music legend

Take a listen to her reflect on her bittersweet memories of the original production:


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