Musical creator known for 'Kat and the Kings,' 'District Six'

South African theater personality Taliep Peterson, the creator of musicals such as “Kat and the Kings” and “District Six: The Musical,” was shot dead during an armed robbery at his Cape Town home Dec. 16. He was 56.

The Petersen family were attacked in their home in the Athlone suburb of Cape Town by armed men who forced their way into the house after Petersen opened the door.

Afrikaans folk singer David Kramer and Petersen, who wrote and played the catchy traditional music of the “colored”  (mixed race) people of South Africa, joined forces in 1986 and quickly became a force in the world of musicals, successfully transplanting their locally inspired  productions onto international stages from London to New York.

Their first musical was “District Six,” focusing on the forced removal of  non-whites from this vibrant, racially and culturally mixed area of Cape Town by the apartheid government during the 1960s. They also co-wrote “Fairyland,” “Crooners,” “Poison,” “Klop Klop,” “Kat and the Kings” and “Ghoema,” which opened in London this year.

“Kat and the Kings”, which looked at the disintegration of the colored community after their eviction from District Six, won two Olivier awards.

“Taliep will live on in the music we made together,” said Kramer. “Although we came from very different backgrounds — he from the mixed-race area of District Six, and me from the ‘white man’s’ Boland — we shared a similar vision: trying to tell South African stories with our stories and music.”

– Christelle De Jager

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