I can distinctly remember the first time I saw Nataniël on stage in Bloemfontein’s Sand du Plessis Theatre and how fascinating and funny I found him. I must have been 14 years old and instantly became a fan. I even remember getting home that night and repeating his stories verbatim to my parents. The highlight of every year since that first show was his annual visit full of fantasy and fun.
Fast forward almost 10 years to where I am a fresh Bachelor of Music graduate about to start an honours degree in piano performance at the University of Pretoria when, out of the blue, I received a telephone call from Nataniël asking if I want to be his new pianist. He acquired my number from a lecturer at the University of Pretoria because his previous accompanist for 10 years (Rocco de Villiers) had started a solo career. I was blown away and although not sure whether I was up to the challenge, I gave a slightly hesitant, but super excited, yes.
We hit it off from the start and I was propelled into the world of shows, lights, costumes and sets I always dreamt of. For my first Nataniël production (Wax staged at the Theatre Rendezvous of the State Theatre) I had to wear high-heel boots, fishnet stockings, a tutu, a sleeveless shirt and a top hat. I remember trying my best not to fall forward on those shoes as I also had to stand and play for first time in my life.
Nataniël’s immaculate work ethic, creativity, discipline, drive and sense of humour has given me two decades of ultimate inspiration and growth — both as musician and artist. He exposed me to venues, audiences, performances and people from the industry whom I would never have encountered as a classical musician. My admiration for this giant in the South African theatre and entertainment industry lies beyond comprehension and today, 5 February 2020, I celebrate 20 fruitful years on stage with him.
A heartfelt thanks to all of Nataniël’s fans who became our fans and later even my fans. Your support made this a journey of a lifetime.
To my mentor in every way and partner-in-crime: Dankie, Nataniël.