To many young theatre audiences today, the name Pieter Toerien is synonymous with musical theatre, Annie, Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King…. To older audiences he is remembered as the kid who dared to bring to South Africa one of Hollywood’s most dazzling stars, Marlene Dietrich; a sensational coup that would have a lasting impact on audience expectations. He raised the bar on entertainment.
For five decades Pieter Toerien has brought to the South African stage quality commercial theatre, given his audiences “the best of British theatre – straight from the West End”, from Peter Schaffer’s Equus and Amadeus to the wit of Noël Coward, the sophistication of Oscar Wilde, Michael Frayne and the challenging genius of Tom Stoppard.
Pieter Toerien is many things; above all he is a strategist. He has strategized his career since he first sat in Cape Town’s Alhambra Theatre. As a child of ten, when the curtain fell, he stood and applauded until his hands were raw, struck by the realization that this was forever to be his life’s path. He strategized past his parents who had in mind a lawyer or a politician. By nineteen he was an impresario.
No other theatre manager has weathered and survived the vagaries of South African politics as he has, survived the onslaught of television, the cultural boycott, the audience drain through emigration. It is where his heart would beat for the next 60 years and beyond.
“…….. You can make a killing but not a living………”
Marlene – streamers