The impossible search is over: Madiba the Musical has found it’s leading man of Nelson Mandela in South African star of the stage, television and film – Perci Moeketsi. The triple threat is from Pretoria, the South African city where Mandela was both imprisoned and later inaugurated as President, so it is fitting that a star from this area is chosen for the pivotal role.


I spoke to Moeketsi from South Africa about his experience preparing and auditioning for the role, how he feels stepping into such iconic shoes and his his career dreams for the future.

“So many different emotions,” he said about how he is feeling.

“I am overjoyed, that is the biggest emotion I am feeling. Very humbled and blessed, and over the moon. Literally, I am over the moon!” he said excitedly.

The role is a huge honor and a privilege for him to play.

“This man is the largest icon, the most identifiable icon, beside brands like Coca Cola”, he laughed.

“To be identified as someone who has the ability to portray him, I don’t know how to describe the…gratitude, to be spotted for such a lovely, lovely role and character. And such a responsibility!”

“I am someone who puts so much effort, with the abilities that I have, in any role I am given, in any task whether its sing, dance or act. And now, besides the personal pressures that one gives ones self, and now I am playing the biggest man to have graced the earth … well one of rather, one of the biggest icons in South African terms. It’s quite overwhelming, but let’s do this, let’s make it happen!” he said, reflecting on whether taking on this role would be a pressure to do it justice.

The audition process was a worldwide search that started last year.

“My agency told me about it, and it’s an international show but without knowing too much about who else is being looked at or how many other agencies have been asked, you know you are competing with the world. How many people are going to bring their A-game to the auditions? From last year, I remember the first song, not just the first song, there are so many songs I recorded to try and make sure I improve, but there was one particular that stuck up to me, even as I looked at it over and over again. I didn’t know, but I was hoping that what I felt was what the producers and the directors would see,” he reflected.

“From there, it has been such a rollercoaster ride, not hearing anything for a good month, two months, three months of the next round, and ultimately getting that last one … it’s been such a journey itself.  Finding out that you really did well globally, if that doesn’t validate my stubbornness instilled in the craft, I don’t know what will. There’s something there, and someone has gotten a look, and I’m really grateful,” he said.

Humble and impossibly polite, Moeketsi joins previously announced cast Tim Omaji (Timomatic); Tarisai Vushe; Blake Erickson; Madeline Perrone; Barry Conrad; Ruva Ngwenya; David Denis along with Courtney Bell and Riley Sutton to star in this brand new show about the life and work of Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist of South Africa.

In researching for the audition and now for the role, he has mostly been reading up on the great man.

“You just read and read and read! What I do try and do is avoid the reviews, as much as I can, because it’s up to me to portray a side of Mr Mandela that is fresh, that is honest as it can be, and so the reading helps a lot more than the watching. Something I learned, as you read your imagination comes to life even more, you create a picture inside, and it’s your responsibility to portray it to whoever is watching you perform or listening. What I do watch is things about the man himself, his speeches, the trial, I still watch this because it is one of the biggest turning moments, I watch his first TV interview a lot,” Moeketsi said about getting to know the icon.

“I want to portray an honest Mandela. I don’t have first hand experience of the man; I never met the man. But I have found his stubbornness, his cheekiness and how he was willing to fight, which are sides I would love to explore.  I kind of go into his mind as I see that video, and portray that anger that might have come from someone who genuinely wanted peace, that was forced to be a warrior.”

He’s played a township adaptation of Romeo, worked in pantomime, been a gospel choir lead and appeared on TV in SA’s Got Talent with his dance group: Forefront Dance Crew. He writes his own stories, directors, choreographs and writes songs, and can rap! But for this incredible performer, this role is very different and very dramatic compared to his previous roles.

“It’s dramatic, everything you do has to be processed internally. Whereas pantomimes and dance, it is very physical. Whereas here, it’s such an internalised motive, to try and find that juice from inside, to really fall in love with the character and portray it, you must make the right movements, especially a character like Mr Mandela, who already has somewhat of a definition. It’s quite different in that regard, but it’s something that I also love and I thrive in, not just because I’m known for my natural humour, and my comic timing, I actually enjoy the drama a lot more. To portray something that’s meaningful, it’s something I love, I love deep stuff,” he said.

He’s currently finalising his visa ahead of rehearsals beginning in September, and has never been to Australia.

“I want to show, by the time I land, that I have a general feel of where I would like to take him, or where I would like to take him as a character”, he said, as he would continue researching and looking for discoveries about Mandela until it is time to start rehearsing.

“I have never been to Australia! I’m very excited, I can’t wait to feel the sun on my skin , to feel the energy of the people, to taste the food and get a feeling of what it’s like there. I am really looking forward to it.”

(No one tell him it’s winter in Melbourne forever!)

He is a big dreamer with big aspirations for the future.

“I feel and hope that I will have an international appeal as an actor. One of my previous answers to this was how I see myself penetrating Hollywood. I went to study theatre, and I learned about West End and I learned about Broadway- that also appeals to me so much. Not only to tell the African story, to want to be on the bigger stages, and as you can imagine, being cast as Mandela is (hopefully) a big sign of the feeling I have about international.  So what I would like to do next, I would love to help launch that international desire, if I do well enough, tour not just Australia but tour the world!”

“I would like to make a mark… but I’d definitely love to win a Tony! It truly is an ambition,” he laughed.

With music and lyrics by Jean-Pierre Hadida and book by Jean-Pierre Hadida and Alicia Sebrien, English co-adaptors Dylan Hadida and Dennis Watkins, Madiba The Musical in Australia marks the English speaking world premiere of the show, previewing in Warrnambool before touring to Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

The show will be directed by Pierre-Yves Duchesne and associate director Dennis Watkins with musical direction by Michael Tyack and choreography by Johan Nus.

We cannot wait to welcome Perci Moeketsi to Australia.

For more information on the show:  Tickets are available for all major cities from Ticketmaster.

MADIBA THE MUSICAL – National Australian Tour



MELBOURNE 3 to 21 October
Venue Comedy Theatre
Bookings Tickets from $79 or 136 100
 SYDNEY  1 to 11 November
Venue State Theatre
Bookings Tickets from $79 or 136 100
 CANBERRA  22 to 24 November
Venue Canberra Theatre
Bookings Tickets from $79  or 136 100