When I hear the name “Alice” I either think of the song “Living next door to Alice” (singing in my head!) or one of my all-time favorite movies – Alice in Wonderland!

A tale that takes you on a magical journey, about a girl that falls down a rabbit hole, and discovers a Wonderland, full of anthropomorphic creatures. She soon discovers magic, fantasy, the mad hatter’s tea party and then some!

However, and as we know (and if you don’t then spoiler alert!), this was all just a dream as Alice had fallen asleep in a meadow.

Are you curious…?

I had the privilege of speaking to another kind of Alice. An Alice that doesn’t just dream, but that brings her dreams to life… she is Alice Gillham.

Gillham is the producer, composer and writer of the music and lyrics of the highly anticipated and very exciting “Calling us Home” The Musical that is on stage from next week, 15 February 2023 – 19 February 2023, at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town!

My excitement levels are through the roof, and I look forward to seeing how this magical story of a young Village Princess that flees her war-torn country in search of a better future, was brought to life, by Alice and the rest of the creative team and cast of “Calling us Home”.

Alice Gillham on set, with rehearsals for the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed “Calling us Home” The Musical

The star-studded cast consists of Devonecia Swartz (the female lead, Grace), Michel Alejandro Castillo (the male lead, Rafael),  Monica Tulia Ramirez (supporting lead, Isabella) and Thokozani Jiyane (goes by TK) – (supporting lead, Nelson

This is an exclusive article for GaloreSA Media, as Alice doesn’t like to be part of the limelight and always stands at the back, because she believes that the music she writes and composes while sitting at her piano, speaks for itself: “I don’t write music for me – I don’t compose music to affirm myself. I always write music for someone else – that is my drive. To write and compose, to tell a story that audiences can resonate with. And for me the point of telling a story, is to give something away

Yoh… can someone please get me my shades…! How profound is that?

When talking to Alice, I couldn’t help but notice the subtle tones of a proverbial wonderland of her own, where she gets her inspiration from. Her goal is to keep on writing in silence so that the music can make all the magic.

Alice comes from a family with a musical background: “I can’t remember a time in my life where I was never not obsessed with music. I have played and read music from the age of 3, and enrolled in ‘formal’ lessons when I was five. Music was always my escape and my safe place. When I finished Matric, I studied music and I kept on performing to my heart’s desire – from the flute, to the piano. I was an instrumental artist and enjoyed every moment of it. After a while, I had the urge and drive to learn more and enrolled for my Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology.

Alice “aced” her Masters Degree with a cum laude!

Calling Us Home, The Musical was written a couple of years ago, prior to Covid and shared with the rest of the creative team. They were “forced” to plan The Musical in a “hybrid” environment, because of social distancing at the time: “everyone said that it won’t work (she chuckles softly) because of the difficult build and stage set-up – but I was determined to do Calling Us Home, and to do it in South-Africa. With a South-African Cast! Africa, with its immense skies and diverse landscapes that stretch into distant horizons, was one of my most significant sources of inspiration.

Being part of a very experienced and highly sought-after creative team in the industry, Alice mentions that the idea was born, when she was in London walking down a busy street and noticing that everyone was from somewhere else: “even me – I am from South-Africa in London and seeing everyone from other regions or countries, it sort of begged the question about ‘how do you feel at home in a foreign place?’ Where is home? Exploring the displacement because of various reasons, work, family etc. and how do we find a deep sense of connection, how do we find home?

OK… even I was almost in tears after hearing that!

With a very strict and rigorous schedule, we had to unfortunately end our lovely chat and Alice had to go due to the technical run of the production.

Even though we chatted over the phone and even though we were kilometers apart, Alice’s way of talking and speaking about her music, her talent, her compositions when she sits at her piano… immediately gave me a sense of ‘home’ and I couldn’t help but imagine this beautiful, softspoken, and kind lady sitting in front of her piano, and once she opens her notebook, a wave – almost rainbow like, appears from the book and shoots into the sky, circling around her with all the magical and wonderful creatures, you could ever imagine, singing, dancing and glowing in the spotlight – almost fairy-tale like…

Alice in Wonderland may have dreamt that she fell down a rabbit hole and was curious to venture on a path of unknown territory and creatures.

Alice Gillham on the other hand – continue to create her own “wonderlands”, her own magical experiences, and her own stories “that moves away from you as composer and comes alive on its own. I hope that everyone that comes and watches Calling Us Home, will be able to take something with them. To experience a sense of connection, as I believe that we are always connected, through music”.


Calling Us Home, The Musical opens on 15 February 2023 at the Artscape Theatre, with the last show on 19 February 2023. All the shows are almost sold out, so make sure you get your tickets at Computicket, today!

– Juan Martin: Galore SA Media VIP Black Carpet: Media Correspondent

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