I wondered for a while why on earth we would have such an odd choice for a theatrical production - the show has an interesting concept, but not much going for it in terms of music, lyrics or storytelling - until I realized this was supposed to be tied in with South Africa hosting the Soccer World Cup.
The article, which appears on the Johannesburg Civic Theatre website, includes the following "eye-roll" quotes:
The musical is set in Belfast, Ireland, between 1969 and 1972, but could just as easily be set in Kosovo, Beirut, Jerusalem or the South Africa of not so many years ago. The themes of THE BOYS IN THE PHOTOGRAPH are universal: all over the world, communities are challenged by hatred.... Whether Catholic or Protestant, whether black or white, no child was ever born to hate.... Audiences have risen to their feet, cheering, screaming and tearful as the game of soccer - the ballet of soccer - is recreated on stage with some of the most originally exciting choreography ever seen in musical theatre. And South Africa will rise to its feet nightly at the Nelson Mandela Theatre to celebrate its triumphs, its sport, its youth... and its creative abilities.
Is it really necessary to draw the parallels as if we are all idiots? Is it really necessary to use such blatantly obvious and emotive marketing propaganda? I guess so, if the producers really want to justify their production. If they really wanted to celebrate our country's creative abilities, wouldn't it be a better idea to commission a new piece of South African theatre?