Award-winning director, Nicholas Ellenbogen brings Alexander McCall Smith’s books, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to the stage in a light-hearted musical extravaganza.

Background information
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is a popular series of books created by the acclaimed British writer, Alexander McCall Smith. This year saw the publication of the 16th addition to the book series since its debut in 1998.

The characters and plots have previously been adapted for screen and radio. Now, award-winning director, Nicholas Ellenbogen brings No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The Musical to the stage in Cape Town, then Johannesburg, and undoubtedly further.

The venue
The Grill Room at the Mount Nelson is not a formal theatre space, but rather a cosy setting with a stage. The intimate environment makes it feel as if the performers are putting on a show right in your living room.


The show
The musical is based on the first few books in the series and follows the adventures of the protagonist, Mma Precious Ramotswe and her accomplices at a detective agency in Gaborone, Botswana. Mma (and Rra) are the formal terms of greeting and respect in Botswana.

The adventures are intertwined in the cases of fake fathers, beauty pageants, muti and other uniquely-African felonies, and they unfold around issues of morality, humour and love.

The music
With music composed by Josh Hawks of Freshlyground, the three-piece band creates African dance, reggae, and jazz rhythms to perfectly complement the performers.

The characters
The small cast of seven effortlessly and entertainingly switch between various delightfully nasty and nice characters, and the props cleverly serve assorted purposes.

Mma Precious Ramotswe (Zoliswa Kawe), a woman of ‘traditional build’, opens the detective agency after her father leaves her the means to do so. She is a resourceful and amusing woman who uses her gifts of intuition, intelligence and humour to help the people of Botswana solve their mysteries. The formally-titled Mr J.L.B. Matekoni (Apollo Ntshoko) is the crooning motor mechanic who hilariously vies for the attention of Ramotswe. Mma Makutsi (Thumeka Mzayiya), in her prim and proper attire, is the proud secretary of the agency and assistant to Ramotswe.

no 1 ladies detective agency

Memorable scenes
The second half opens with an unexpected take on the beauty pageant scene which brought a laugh. Another number I can’t get out of my head is the loose reggae beat of ‘A Snake, A Snake, A Snake’ performed by Luvo Tambo, whose dancing and energy is magnetic

no 1 ladies detective agency

The multi-talented performers and characters are lovable and their passion and enthusiasm is evident. This classic laugh-out-loud comedy is highly relatable to the South African audience, young or old. I would definitely watch this again.

Where Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel Grill Room
When Tuesday to Sunday from 6 October until mid-December 2015 (8 pm Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm on Sundays)
Cost Check the Facebook page for the latest ticket specials (From R175) or R250 tickets at Webtickets,  or pay using SnapScan at the door. Book a pre-show dinner at the Planet Restaurant R265 for two courses R330 for three courses.
Contact +27 72 942 8102

Photography courtesy

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