#Starlight Express – Finding Dustin

Finding Dustin - Weslee Swain Lauder
Finding Dustin – Weslee Swain Lauder

Weslee Swain Lauder  stars in #StarlightExpressSA  at the Jo’burg Theatre as “Dustin” – A Big Hopper

Dustin is the largest of the freight cars, a large hopper. Sometimes he carries gravel and sometimes he carries aggregates.  He’s the largest, but he’s also very self-conscious of his size, so he’s cutely quiet and shy. Dustin also dreams of being a great racer, but because of his size, no engine wants to take him. He’ll just slow them down. Dustin does not really have a song to himself either, but he does have a song he sings counterpoint to Rusty.

Weslee was kind enough to answer a few questions for Da Wench:

1. Describe Weslee in three words.
Just three? Hehe… (PS. I would have said exactly that – Wenchy!!!)
 Humorous. Intelligent. Perseverant.

2. What was your first job in theatre?
First Professional job? As Ensemble in “Buddy. The Buddy Holly Story” at the State theatre.

3. What is your personal greatest challenge in your role as Dustin in #StarlightExpressSA ?
Finding Dustin’s physicality, because I didn’t want to do anything stereotypical.

4. Will you ever wear a pair of skates again after hours and hours of #StarlightExpressSA – for fun!?
OF COURSE!!!! I’m wearing them right now.

5. How do you personally measure success?
In the consistency of result.

6. What do you do for amusement?
Eat, read, retail therapy, play Xbox, tease my best friend, sleep, watching series and researching interesting ideas on the web.

7. What is your favourite meal?
Toughie,… food is my favourite meal, but if had to choose, I’d say curry (any curry).

8. Please share a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
I’m not fat; it’s actually a body suit. LOL

9. What would be the ultimate role to play?
Uhm, at the moment: Hedwig in “Hedwig and the angry inch

10. What has been both the best and worst day in your life? Yip, same day.
The worst day is behind me and the best day is yet to come.

Weslee Swain Lauder

As I rush off to the theatre, let me just thank Wesley for taking the time to answer my questions and for being such a treat in person and fabulous in the show. I am now a fan… but more a stalker….

Tickets for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Starlight Express can be purchased by visiting the theatre online, or contacting the ticketing call centre on 0861 670 670.  It is an awesome family show!!!

I wish you enough,Wenchy

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ― Nelson Mandela”

I feel like I am holding my breath.

Both in unending gratitude for Madiba who was born captive, but will die a free man. Amandla!….. an in-depth sadness as we await his passing.

He may be but a man, but I firmly believe giants walk amongst us.

Madiba has given us enough, we must let him go.

Wεทchƴ¸.¸. ҉¨


Through all the days that eat away
At every breath that I take
Through all the nights I’ve lain alone
In someone else’s dream, awake
All the words in truth we have spoken
That the wind has blown away
It’s only you that remains with me
Clear as the light of day

o siyeza, o siyeza , sizofika webaba noma
(we are coming, we are coming, we will arrive soon)
O siyeza, o siyeza, siyagudle lomhlaba
(we are coming, we are coming, we are moving across this earth)
Siyawela lapheshaya lulezontaba ezimnyama
(we are crossing over those dark mountains)
Lapha sobheka phansi konke ukhulupheka
(where we will lay down our troubles)

A punch drunk man in a downtown bar
Takes a beating without making a sound
Through swollen eyes he sways and smiles
’cause noone can put him down
Inside of him a boy looks up to his father
For a sign or an approving eye
Oh, it’s funny how those once so close and now gone
Can still so affect our lives

o siyeza, o siyeza , sizofika webaba noma
(we are coming, we are coming, we will arrive soon)
O siyeza, o siyeza, siyagudle lomhlaba
(we are coming, we are coming, we are moving across this earth)
Siyawela lapheshaya lulezontaba ezimnyama
(we are crossing over those dark mountains)
Lapha sobheka phansi konke ukhulupheka
(where we will lay down our troubles)

– Johnny Clegg

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Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in…

On my 40th birthday with my Dad Alex and my Mammie, Yvonne.

On my 40th birthday with my Dad Alex and my Mammie, Yvonne.

My Dad Alex was not there in 1972 at my conception. Dad Alex has however been there for me every day I would allow his comfort since.

I moved from the warmth of my Oupa Mike and Ouma Chrissie’s home in Potchefstroom to the stark contradiction of the concrete jungle in Hillbrow, Johannesburg to live with my Mammie and my sister, Rentia after my father died in 1984.

In writing I always refer to him as “my father”, but in person, I called him “Pappie”. His name was Johan. He died shortly after his 30th birthday in a car accident. I was 11.

I have never really spoken to my Mammie about why I had to move, I just know I hated it. My Mammie was in mourning. We were not close emotionally then, but I was petrified she was going to die. My panic attacks were flying off the charts.

Not only was there grown ass black men walking around freely and not terrorists as all as I grew up to believe, but I had no idea how to get home should Mammie succumb to her grieve. Home being my grandparents. Then there was my sister. What would I do with her?

Thankfully a constant arrived in “Oom Alex” who applauded every small victory I made. First bus ride home alone, getting into art school, winning “Miss Joubertpark” (don’t ask!) he would always be there with a “Well done my girl!”.

“Oom Alex” had worked with my Mammie for as long as I can remember. They both are experts in labour law. “Oom Alex” encouraged my Mammie to study, they shared an office and gave up smoking. He was in the details, the gold nuggets of life.

I would make him flapjacks and a note my Mammie was to give him at work. When I messed up in years to come, he would stand as a go between my Mammie and I. Nothing shocked him and if it did, he never led on or judged. I was enough. Even when I didn’t believe it.

“Oom Alex” and his wife was there when my Mammie married the evil stepfather. I hated that man. “Oom Alex” danced at her wedding. I recall a ice sculpture. A swan? Anyway, we were close. “Oom Alex” was the closest resemblance in value and moral high ground that I have ever met, next to my Oupa Mike. Oupa remains a giant. Nobody will ever quite be as tall as our giant.

Thankfully, by some miracle my Mammie divorced that evil stepfather (although sadly for me, the damage was done) some years later….and I when I was 19 my Mammie and “Oom Alex” got married. A true celebration of good kicking evil’s ass! They paid a price I am sure to be together, but it was a match made in heaven.

Dad Alex has never taken anything from me. Nothing. Not once. He has only given abundantly. He has cared for my Mammie and my sussie (no easy feat!), lovingly looked after them while he supported and cared for my grandparents until their deaths. Working to take them places they had never thought they would see.

Dad Alex was there every time I got married, (well, except for the eloped third marriage! LOL Sorry Dad!) and waited outside the theatre every time I had a baby. My Mammie and Dad were the first people to see my children, next to their many fathers (sounds more dramatic, doesn’t it! Haha!) and medical staff.

Dad is a man of simple tastes. Old Brown Sherry and dark chocolate wins his heart. He is calm, confident, reliable, trustworthy, unbelievably giving and hard working. He walks his talk.

The two giants who shaped me, gave me the greatest gift any child could have – they loved and cherished my mothers, Ouma Chrissie and Mammie. Thank you Oupa Mike and Dad Alex.

My gratitude is deep, swimming in royal colours in my heart. I can never repay your l♡ve, comfort, understanding, unwavering commitment to my sister and I, or to my Mammie and grandparent. You are an unbelievably involved and loving grandfather. You know my kids because you helped raise them. They turn to you. I respect that. You earned every Oupa that ever came out their mouths.

I l♡ve you Dad. It may have taken me some years to take your hand, but I always knew you would dance me to the end of l♡ve… If I let you.

I wish you……enough.
Stel x

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of l♡ve
– Leonard Cohen

The first forty years of life give us the text: the next thirty supply the commentary. #14forever

#14 till I do

Dear me,

Happy birthday sweetheart!

What I forget to tell you when you were 20 was that it really didn’t matter all that much that you were not like the people around you. You were so worried about being accepted at by your ‘friends’ at church because your (then) husband drank too much, your kids didn’t go to the ‘right’ school, you were not thin and gorgeous  and you didn’t know all the Bible verses out your head. You didn’t speak softly to your children or thought giving your kids bran muffins was a treat. Very happy you followed your head on that! Bran muffins are for constipation. We now know that.

In reality you cared about the people around you. You gave of yourself as much as you could. You have made some really valuable friends and you have lost many to life and some to death. You do cry ALLOT. Still….you were very open to new experiences, friends and you only once drank too much at Vicky’s cocktail party – holding onto the wall not to fall. Okay that was not really cool, but you were newly divorced, and seriously, in 2o years, who even remembers right? You still kicked ass. 11 blow jobs in a row. You gotta congratulate yourself on that one. Oh and that you didn’t vomit. Also a good thing.

I am glad you continued to follow your heart, although you royally screwed up many times. Sometimes HUGE…. Your kids turned out good. Okay so they have issues. Show me a kid without issues? They suppose to have issues. We all need therapists. Three marriages, two divorces? Your not Elizabeth Taylor okay? Judy Garland. Stop getting married. Just let it be.

One thing I gotta give you, you still have a million dollar smile, a big ass and hips to match (you may wanna continue working on that…..) you do give of yourself – sometimes WAYYYYYY too much and sometimes to the wrong people, but still good show, good show. You still believe vulnerability is to be alive and we still agree on that one, rather feel, than feel nothing at all. You do have the ability to light up the room. The last one your husband said. Not me.

Here’s looking at you kid. I wish you ENOUGH,

Wenchy x

Drug Muled: Sixteen Years in a Thai Prison

Drug Muled:  Sixteen Years in a Thai PrisonDrug Muled: Sixteen Years in a Thai Prison by Joanne Joseph

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought the book because I am friends with the publisher, on Face Book, and I read how it was flying off the shelves in bookstores. I could not find it available in a Kindle version which was annoying, so I did get the soft cover.

This turned out to be a good thing as my daughter, Victoria (13) was visiting on the weekend, picked up the book and finished it by the next day. I heard her laughter next door, as well as the silence and I felt happy that books could take her on an emotional journey.

Once I also settled down to read “Drug Muled” I finished the same day. I did not enjoy the style of writing as it was very simplistic reading in terms of language and comprehension and I felt could do with some “meat”. Victoria and I agreed it is difficult to say we enjoyed the book because of the subject matter. How do you enjoy reading about a horrific act of evil done to a person, which in turn affects dozens of people in its aftermath?

I must admit, after reading the book, I never want to visit Thailand. Not for anything.

I found it hard at times to follow the sequence of events, or how exactly the relationship between the embassy and prison worked. What I did however fully grasp was the love Vanessa shared for her daughter, the devotion of friendship (because I have once shared such of powerful bond) that she could ask a friend to raise her child, and the difficulty adjusting to life outside of such a rigid, cruel structure for so many years.

It was mentioned on Face Book, that the book should perhaps be a compulsory read for high school students, which I would agree with. There is much one can learn about being a naïve young girl, believing in first love. People are both evil and good, and you may be surprised who stands by you when the chips are down. Perhaps the most overwhelming of them all, the difficulty in trying to forgive the people who had framed Vanessa (which is never mentioned in the book) and her acceptance of the years of her life she has lost.

It does leave one thinking.


View all my reviews

A rare gift I cherish.

As I have read your responses on the posted updates on my sister, Rentia’s ongoing health issues on Face Book, I have again realised what a magnitude of generosity of l♡ve and sincere friendship surrounds me from all over the world, and in my backyard.

So many of you have lived inside my internet world – some as long as 16 years! We may have met blog hopping, getting nakkid on HNT, sharing our photography on Flickr, chatted on Yahoo groups for moms or weight loss, followed each other on Twitter or be Face Book friends. We have shared joys and heartache. We have loved. We have lived.

Very few of you I have spoken to on the phone… some I have had messenger chats with, shared hundreds of e-mails and blog comments with, few I have had web cam laughter with, exchanged posted gifts, books, Christmas cards, postcards and even socks! 🙂

We may never have hugged (I believe I give good hugs because I have been told so *smile*) physically but you have been closer to me, and know my soul better than some people I share DNA with. We have laughed out loud with joy in happy moments and cried very real tears in sad times.

Many won’t understand how you can care so deeply, l♡ve so strongly, feel such loyalty, be a muse or amused, know so much of another persons in depth world when you have only shared words and pictures.

Off course there are the people who live physically within reach that I have developed deep and meaningful relationships with. Some I have also never met in person, but I know their details and they know mine. Friendship has never been about distance, but about depth.

I don’t know how much I may have touched your hearts or lives, but I know the abundance in which so many (near and many miles away) of YOU have touched, changed, loved, shared and blessed mine – forever.

Thankfully I have been able to meet some of you in person and it is as if we have known each other, always – because we do.

Thank you for being part of my world and letting me share yours. The support right now online for my sister, and your generosity in helping with financial aid for Rentia’s medication is overwhelming and humbling.

You CAN hold a heart so close that you touch the screen and they touch back … “and in that moment we were infinite”. (The perks of being a wallflower)

I wish you enough.

L♡ve, loves –
Wεทchƴ¸.¸. ҉¨

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Midnight Special

* I miss seeing all my kids together.

* I loved the @JoburgRedBus with the @Tomorrow_Trust today. Blog to follow.

* Happy to fit in my jeans today.

* Wishing my headache would go away.

* Big time enjoying the social media I am involved with at the moment. Meeting interesting people and being part of awesome projects.

* I should be reading more.

* I am loving scarves! Not knitted, just draped material.

* Hoping @SirNoid’s team did a higher target than last month. That would make him very happy.

* I feel for flapjacks.

* Not sure if I should grow or cut my hair.

* Would l♡ve some grey casual shoes.

* Kev, Kyla, Cam, Nick, Liam James, Kyle, Luke, Dylan, Victoria wherever you are tonight – l♡ve you. Dough and Jenna-Lee is here. 🙂

I wish you goodnight kisses,
Wεทchƴ¸.¸. ҉¨

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I am a fan of musical theatre. Okay, that doesn’t sound right. When *I* say it there is projection of voice, vast hand movements and what my sister Rentia calls, “a million dollar smile” on my face. I launch ships….and divorces.

Musicals, the theatre, performing, artists… and me believing I am the reincarnation of Judy Garland, never made Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work a hard sell for me.

I sang along to “Phantom of the Opera” when my Aunty Denise bought the tape when I was 14. Yes, a music cassette. Yes, I am that old.

I have had the privilege and joy to join the #newmedia team at @joburgtheatre and loving it is an understatement. I am in my personal heaven!

So at the moment, I am watching the little train that could, the #StarlightExpressSA, come to life!! My enjoyment is from the pit of my stomach, the curling of my toes!!

I have been to the publicity recording, sharing lunch with staff of the @joburgtheatre and the #newmedia team, while interacting with the CEO of @joburgtheatre, the energetic and easy as Sunday morning, Mr Bernard Jay. I could listen to his chatter all day. He is sincere, passionate, quick witted and just a darling of a man. I l♡ve his laughter.

I was surprised, VERY happily so, when THE Janice Honeyman joined us. I was telling my eldest son Kevin who will be 20 in August, explaining who Janice is, and he was like “Mom, everyone knows who Janice Honeyman is!”. Whoop! The most gifted stage director in South Africa I say and the nicest person! Such a great afternoon I had that day!

The first day of rehearsals was alive with tangible emotion. I will soon make another round of applause to just sit in and listen to the cast do their magic in rehearsals. It is like hot chocolate on a cold day to my soul. A theatre is perhaps as sacred to me as a cathedral is to some. It holds history, magic, escape and tenderness.

Next week is the set building and I have both read and heard the set itself is reason enough to buy a ticket!…. I can’t wait – seeing the birth of this production from its South African conception has been captivating, fascinating and electrifying!

One of my favourite performers, is Bongi who plays a very important part. I don’t want to give too much away, but he literally sang two lines in rehearsal and I was wiping tears. Huge career awaiting this young man – I am a HUGE fan!

I wish you a ride on a steam train,
Wεทchƴ¸.¸. ҉¨

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“I would die for you, but I won’t live for you.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


Usually, I have much to say, but this book was far too delicate for me to even suggest I could discuss character building and such. It’s a rose petal. Smell. Savour. Remember.

Wow! The book is geared to the young adult market I presume, but it captivated me immediately. It was beautiful in its innocence, beauty, hopes and dreams.

There were so many quotes. Moments where I just sat and breathed in the beauty.

I cried many times.

“That’s when Sam grabbed my hand. “I love this song!” She led me to the dance floor. And she started dancing. And I started dancing. It was a fast song, so I wasn’t very good, but she didn’t seem to mind. We were just dancing, and that was enough. The song ended, and then a slow one came on. She looked at me. I looked at her. Then, she took my hands and pulled me in to dance slow. I don’t know how to dance slow very well either, but I do know how to sway. Her whisper smelled like cranberry juice and vodka. “I looked for you in the parking lot today.” I hoped mine still smelled like toothpaste. “I was looking for you, too.” Then, we were quiet for the rest of the song. She held me a little closer. I held her a little closer. And we kept dancing. It was the one time all day that I really wanted the clock to stop. And just be there for a long time.”
 — Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

Truly recommend this book for 15+ (although my 13 year old read it, she is not quite your average 13-year-old reader.)

“I couldn’t believe Sam actually got me a present because I honestly thought the “I love you” was it.”
— Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

I wish you… infinity.