Dane Marais inspiring the next generation of theatre stars

Musical Theatre Masterclass founder Dane Marias with his students at a recent production

Musical Theatre Masterclass founder Dane Marais has transformed his passion for the theatrical arts into a platform for young talent to discover their inner-Broadway stars.

In South Africa, we live in a country where sport (mainly soccer, rugby and cricket etc.) is the predominant extra-mural activity among the youth, which attracts majority of sponsorships, exposure and public support. This leaves little room for the development of other industries, especially arts and culture.

However, Dane Marais has refused to let the challenges of society curtail his passion for musical theatre – more so his passion to inspire young talent to use the arts to develop and better themselves on and off stage.

“My interest in the genre of musical theatre came quite late, but it was something I instantly fell in love with and knew I had to pursue. I would listen to musical scores I gathered at college and online, watch my fellow classmates, and surround myself with people who had a passion for musical theatre and just feel so inspired. And I love that nowadays any story can be told in a musical form. To me the possibilities with musical theatre are endless,” explained Dane.

“It has so many any avenues I wanted to explore, especially as a teacher. I wanted to make a difference and pass my knowledge, expertise, passion and experiences onto others.  There’s nothing more rewarding than watching a young generation of children on stage having fun and sharing that same passion and love for musical theatre that you have.”

Having featured in productions like ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘All the World’s a Stage’ as an actor, teaching is where Dane receives greater personal reward. This was confirmed during his time as a teacher at another performing arts school, which inspired him to take the leap of faith and start his own business.

He established Musical Theatre Masterclass in 2014, which has since grown from strength to strength over the past five years. And while he’s still a “young” professional in the industry at the age of 30, he’s achieved notable success as a mentor – hosting classes at the Old Mill Theatre and Shed Studio in Paarl.

Musical Theatre Masterclass is one of the first privately owned musical theatre studios in the Western Cape. While it only started with handful of students in its first year, but has gone on to attract over 15 students at its base in Paarl during 2018. That number is expected to rise when class re-opens in 2019.

More impressively, one Musical Theatre Masterclass alumni has recently been accepted by the prestigious Waterfront Theatre School as a full-time student. This highlights the Dane’s ability to convert his student’s passion into something more.

“I started Musical Theatre Masterclass with the sole purpose of professionally training a younger generation of children with a love and passion for the arts… and in the long run, creating more employment opportunities and performing platforms for them in the theatre and across the industry,’ said Dane.

“From a personal standpoint – as a teacher and a creative – I’ve learned that every student is different. Everyday, I face something new. I’m challenged in different ways working with so many children, helping each one reach their full potential as performers.

“But I’m definitely on the right track, as the results confirm… the increasing amount of students joining Musical Theatre Masterclass every year, the standing ovations, the sold-out productions, the feedback, response and praise about our shows and watching my students have so much fun and shine on stage… this all makes me love my job and realise that all the sacrifices and time I invest in my students is all worth it.”

So as a student, what can one expect from Musical Theatre Masterclass?

“On stage, musical theatre definitely challenges kids and encourages them to step out of their comfort zones while having lots of fun exploring all avenues of musical theatre. You develop as a triple threat performer being able to sing, dance and act,” said Dane.  “Kids will learn to play an active part in the creation of performance pieces, become team players, and bring positivity in the rehearsal room day after day.

“Stepping out of your comfort zone as a child can offer so many benefits making children more productive, perform at their peak, improve their abilities to handle new and unexpected curveballs that life throws at us. You learn to grow as individuals, making us more creative, all of which I strongly encourage especially at an early age. But I think above all… musical theatre is an activity that helps children flourish and gives them the confidence to know that anything in life is achievable through hard work, dedication, commitment and a passion for what you do.”

Dane added that the parents have always commended his work after seeing their children develop.

“It’s heart-warming to receive so much positive feedback from parents every year. They make sacrifices as well, dedicating time to transport their kids to classes and shows. Supporting them in their successes and loving them through their disappointments creates a stronger bond between child and parent,” explained Dane.

“Parents always speak about their children’s personal development through musical theatre. It will teach their children important life lessons. It’s a healthy escape from the real world and an ‘unplug’ from technology, which the youth is so accustomed to nowadays. It can really be exhilarating for parents seeing their kids exceed expectations and experience the joys of performing on stage.”

So what’s next for Musical Theatre Masterclass?

“You can definitely expect bigger and better productions. We also boast new dance and drama offerings, thanks to the inclusion of Kayla Van Tonder who is on board as Choreographer and Assistant Director,” said Dane.

“In the long term future, I’ll be looking to invest into my own studio space and eventually running Musical Theatre Masterclass as a full-time performing arts institution.”

Want to join Musical Theatre Masterclass in 2019?

Contact Dane Marais on  or email dane@mtmasterclass.co.za

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