The vibrant Anray Amansure, a City Varsity graduate, plays the role of Liezel Lewis in Aunty Merle, The Musical, the musical comedy featuring comedian Marc Lottering as the big-mouthed and straightforward Aunty Merle Abrahams, a housewife from Belgravia Road, Athlone.
Drama unfolds in the Abrahams household when Tarryn Lamb as Abigail Abrahams (Aunty Merle’s daughter), announces her engagement to Alan White (Stephan Jubber) and all hell breaks loose when ex-boyfriend Denver Paulse (Loukmaan Adams) intervenes. Abigail and Liezel are best friends and Liezel encourages and supports Abigail through her tough time, adhering to her motto, “ life’s way too short for nonsense and nonsensical boys”.
Growing up with a passion for dancing, Anray envisioned herself as a dance choreographer. She spent most of her adolescent years in the church choir, ministering through song at different churches.
In her final year at Mondale High School, in Portland, she applied to study public relations at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. However, only one week into being at campus she felt she needed to make a change to her career choice. She said: “I was sitting in class and I sent my mommy ‘please call me’s’. She called and I was like , I can’t do this, I need to be at the music school.”
She moved on to study at the Cape Music Institute in Athlone. After finishing a year, she went to work at a call centre.
One day, while watching a TV series, another career choice popped up – she really wanted to do TV presenting. Doing research on where she could take up the course, she found that to be on the screen she would have to either do the presenting course part-time or in the second year of acting. She chose acting, which is a career choice which had never even crossed her mind.
“That’s when I fell in love with theatre. Now I really can’t picture myself doing anything else,” said Anray.
She then obtained her diploma and Advanced Diploma in Professional Acting for Camera. Anray said she was urged by her agent to audition for Aunty Merle, The Musical while she was rehearsing for the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in March. “After rehearsal I came here (Baxter Theatre) and I saw all these amazing actors and I said to myself ‘I don’t know if I’m going to get this’”.
But she didn’t get feedback and, feeling disappointed, she contacted her agent who surprised her with the news that she had got the part.
Anray said she enjoyed working with the cast of the musical and referred to them as family.
“They are all lovely people, both on and off stage and easy to get along with,” she said. When asked how her character differed from her, she said there were actually similarities.
“She’s confident, does not have time for nonsense. She’s fun and believes there’s a time for everything – when it is time to be fun, she is and when there is a time to be serious, she’s serious,” said Anray.
Aunty Merle, The Musical is only one of the many productions that Anray has performed in. She was in a theatre piece called The price of meat , presented by City Varsity, she also shared the stage with artists such as Sasha- Lee Davids, musician Munro du Toit, the 2010’s SA’s Got Talent winner James Bhemgee, The South African Youth Choir and many more. She is part of an all women’s group called Woman2Woman, known for their funny parody, including the remake of Beyonce’s, Irreplaceable.
Through it all, Anray said, her family had been very supportive of her decisions. “They have been my backbone. A lot of parents don’t acknowledge the arts, with many parents feeling that when you study it has to be lucrative. Thankfully,they never restricted me from doing what I am doing. We are a very strong family and we never allowed circumstances to dictate where and what we need to do.”