March 2014

A manifesto for turning employees into disciples, evangelists and just plain happy people

Australian digital media giant ninemsn has produced what is nothing less than a bible for the perfect work environment.

They’ve put together a manifesto that is pure, beautiful, inspired genius. Not because they’ve worked out a way to fuel cars with dried leaves or devised a mechanism by which to block the aeroplane seat in front of you from reclining onto your lap, but because it expresses the core needs of a happy employee, a thriving workplace and a successful team. I’m saving and printing out a copy just in case Earth is hit by a meteor at some point and we need a blueprint to help us rebuild civilisation.

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Social media just got real in Call Me Lee at Theatre on the Bay


It’s no secret that I’m a fan of theatre. Live performance is an art that nothing that technology throws at us will ever be able to replicate. The anticipation as you wait in your seats. The buzz in the air as the lights dim and the fantasy world behind the curtain is revealed for the first time. The sets. The costumes. The plots and music. THE ACTORS. The realness of seeing them sweating or trembling or laughing. Eye contact when you feel like they’re looking right at you. There’s nothing like it.

Although I don’t get to see as many shows as I’d like, I keep an eye out for the special ones that can’t be missed. Phantom of the Opera was one such show. Obviously. But I didn’t expect the level of performance I saw from the man behind the mask that night: Jonathan Roxmouth. He had the Phantom nailed in every way: from the smallest of hand gestures (which he later told me he had studied while preparing for the role) to his flawless acting to his breathtaking singing abilities. He remains to this day the very best Phantom I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a few. Loads, actually, if you count YouTube clips. It’s a show I’ll see at least five more times if it ever comes back to Cape Town.

The next time I saw Jonathan was in A Handful of Keys. Again, a standout performance and this time an evening filled with great fun, outstanding singing (as expected) and some of the most exceptional piano skills I’ve ever seen live on stage. I was stunned. And I’ll be going back to see it a few more times when their 20th anniversary of the show returns later this year.

Fast forward to tonight. I went off to see Jonathan as Liberace in Call Me Lee at Theatre on the Bay. I knew it would be amazingly good. I even tweeted this:

I knew Jonathan would pull off Liberace flawlessly. Which he absolutely did. I knew he’d play the piano like a maestro whose fingers were alive and dancing on the keys. Which he REALLY did. I hoped we’d end up laughing. Which we ALL did – throughout the show. But what I didn’t know, or suspect, or imagine in my wildest dreams, was that Mr Showmanship himself would single me out, by name, to shout HEY at the break during his famous Boogie Woogie! As you may know, Liberace loved to involve the audience, especially during this song. He’d ask the ladies to shout their loudest HEY. Then the ‘fellas’. Jonathan did the same tonight, to everyone’s delight, including mine. But then, with an evil twinkle in his eye, Mr Roxmouth Liberace Esquire asked a special guest to do the honours in a round of his own. I heard my name and hoped I was dreaming. Then, as I slid down my seat and felt my face turning purple, waved back at Liberace himself, before giving the loudest HEY I could muster at the right moment. Punctuated by knocking over a glass thanks to all my squirming. To which Liberace responded, without missing a beat: “He’s so excited he even broke a glass! L’chaim!”.

As my heart kick started itself, I tweeted from my seat:

Wow, I don’t remember ever being that embarrassed in public. But (I can say now) it was in a wonderfully funny and humble way. And as I drove home (after fleeing the scene of the crime), I thought about how special it was of Jonathan to recognise a fan in such a memorable way. A way that included him in the very show he was looking forward to seeing. A way that, if you remember, I said technology could never replicate. And yet, it’s a little ironic that it came about thanks to the technology that lets us all reach out to anyone in the world whenever we like. But while a retweet using the same technology goes a long way, there is nothing on the planet that replaces the kind of real human connection that I shared with Liberace tonight.

Thanks for the music and memories Jonathan. But above all, never forget to look over your shoulder 😉