I missed Songs of Migration in its original run earlier in the year, but managed to get to the second last performance for the year at the Market Theatre on Saturday night. The show itself is a bit difficult to categorise - it is not a theatre performance, and although it is billed as a musical; there is no overarching story or dramatic performance. It is really a collection of musical pieces, collated with a single theme (migration) - but at the same time is devoid of the audience interaction and banter that goes with musical performances.
Songs of Migration feature a huge number of songs (about 40 IIRC), mostly written or adapted by Hugh Masekela. The show is mostly focused on black South Africa - from the arrival of colonialism, through apartheid to the modern era; although there is one song on Jewish migration, a short snippet in Afrikaans and a few African American songs focused on cotton picking.
The range of languages is amazing - almost every South African language and then some more! And this leads to my only real gripe about the show - there should really be a longer translation of all the songs, because, due to the variety of languages, there is always someone in the crowd who is not going to understand the song - even though the overall meaning is pretty clear.
In terms of the performances themselves - for me Sibongile Khumalo and Hugh Masekela stole the show. Sibongile Khumalo has a wonderful stage presence, and takes an almost matriarchal command of the performance; gluing all the various performances into some sort of an overarching tale of migration. And Hugh Masekela, for a 70 year old, he outdanced, outsang all his younger colleagues and then some more. He is just an absolutely brilliant performer. The other members of the cast also bring various talents to the fore; especially in the choral pieces.
The show is very slick and highly entertaining. I think it is back sometime early next year - so if you haven't seen it; go see it.