Academy’s Dream Girls ready to shine

The Rainbow Academys Dream Girls stars: performer Lindokuhle Melaphi and singer Shiloh Tumba.

Two aspiring performing arts students described being picked for two of the lead roles in the Rainbow Academy’s production, Dream Girls, as a surprise.

And even though performer Lindokuhle Melaphi and singer Shiloh Tumba knew they were good at what they did, they both doubted their ability to pull off the roles, but for different reasons.

Dream Girls, which will show at the Artscape from Wednesday February 5 until Saturday February 8, is the Rainbow Academy’s annual graduation production, that provides the students of the graduating class of 2019 the opportunity to perform on a professional stage.

Dream Girls follows the lives of three aspiring black soul singers, The Dreamettes, as they compete at a local talent contest at the Apollo Theatre, to become the next best thing in Showbiz.

The experience changes their lives forever as they navigate through the competitive world of show business in search of a dream. Shiloh will be playing the role of Effie White for all four nights, and Lindokuhle will be playing Deena Jones on the first and second show nights. Shiloh was born in Angola, but was raised in Cape Town and lives in Diep River.

“From seven years old, I knew there was music inside of me, but I was not sure how to put it out there.”

She was offered a lead role in a school production, and when everyone loved her, she knew it was her calling.

In Grade 3, Shiloh attended a new school, where she was bullied and became so insecure that she did not sing for the rest of her schooling career.

After school, she auditioned for the church choir when her father encouraged her to audition.

“I didn’t want to sing because I hadn’t done it in years, and I doubted myself but when I got in, I knew there was still something there.”

Her mother Elizabeth “Diamond” Tumba, who died two years ago, was a well-known local singer too, and her father has always encouraged her to pursue singing

She was so confused about what she wanted to study, that she ended up not going to college, until her father said she had to choose something to pursue.

“Someone posted about the Rainbow Academy and told me I should audition. On the day of my audition, I turned around at the door because I thought I couldn’t do it, but my friend called me back and the lecturers loved me.”

Shiloh was also accepted at the Cape Music Institute in Athlone, as well as the Manhattan School of Arts in America. She is raising funds for accommodation and flights to attend the programme.

Lindokuhle, from Wynberg, grew up at the military base. Her father was in the military and travelled a lot, while she stayed home with her mother and siblings.

While Lindokuhle always loved performing, her parents always told her it was a hobby, and not a career.

“In high school, I joined a drama group and we were invited to perform at festivals and events. In 2015, I won best supporting actor for the production Choices at the Artscape, where I played a father who was overprotective of his daughters.

“It was a challenge, but I imagined what I would be like if I were my father, and imagined the role. I knew that when I won, I couldn’t stop there,” she said.

After school, she struggled to get into college or university because her parents had discouraged a career in performing arts, but that was all she wanted to do.

“They believed it wouldn’t put food on the table, so I went to study public relations, but didn’t finish the course due to my father’s travelling and miscommunication with my mother, who was unemployed.”

At this point, Lindokuhle decided to give up on her acting, as she kept getting rejected at auditions. “I doubted myself so much. I saw a post about the Rainbow Academy and told myself this was my last shot – it’s this or nothing.”

She auditioned and told her story and why she believed in her acting, and got accepted at the arts school.

She had also applied and auditioned for the New York Film Academy and has been selected to study there. However, she is still trying to raise funds for accommodation and flights to New York.

Meanwhile, she will spend six months on a training programme at the Magnet Theatre. The girls said initially, when they heard they were to do Dream Girls, they were very doubtful of who they would audition for.

Lindokuhle said it was “lots of singing and I’m more of an actor” and Shiloh said “It was big shoes to fill because Jennifer Hudson (who acted in the movie) has great vocal ability”.

Lindokuhle said one of her biggest challenges was that the show has two casts, and the performers sometimes struggled with communication and her story. She is also playing Deena for the opening night and the night thereafter, so there is extra pressure.

“I studied the character and realised that I can relate to her. She is also on a journey of self discovery, and trying to convince her mother that she can succeed.”

Meanwhile, Shiloh plays Effie on all four nights, and says that the pressure is on because there will be no one to play Effie if she messes up. “This is my first time performing on a professional stage, and I’m so nervous that I will crack, but I’m also excited. I want people to see Effie or Jennifer when I perform.”

Lindokuhle said she feels that there should be more opportunities for actors starting out in the city centre. “The environment here is on a professional scale, and if you don’t have the qualifications or the connections, you will never get anywhere. There is no support for so called small fish.”

Shiloh agreed, saying that the city centre is “cliquey and picky”. “There should be more opportunities for different performers and newer performers to get involved. If I didn’t know about the Rainbow Academy, I probably would’ve never performed on big stages such as the Artscape.”

Dream Girls will show at the Artscape from Wednesday February 5 until Saturday February 8, at 8pm.

Tickets cost R100 and R80 for pensioners and pupils. There are discounted tickets for opening night, Wednesday February 5, as well as for block bookings of 10, for R80. Book via Computicket.

If you would like to help these performers on their journey to study in America, you can contact Shiloh at 081 027 6802 and Lindokuhle at 062 770 8612.