Written by Mike Kenny
Directed by Francois Theron
Once again, director Francois Theron succeeds in bringing a production to life in such a way that it’s perfectly accessible to and understood by the youngest of theatre-goers. We are so used to productions that are big, bold and shiny – far too brash and sophisticated for the likes of younger minds who are just getting to grips with what theatre is all about and how they can relate to it. The National Children’s Theatre is the ideal space in which they can do that.
I’ll admit from the start, I’m a fan of anything that relates to Peter Pan, and this didn’t disappoint. Sarah Roberts has created costumes and a set that will delight young audiences, and will inspire them to go home and re-enact both in their own homes! She’s made use of everyday household items that children will be able to find around their homes and that of their friends: an umbrella (the big, magical moon), gardening rakes (crocodile teeth), sleeping bags (mermaid tails – assisted by braces) … they might have to look a bit further for a wheelbarrow (a boat)!
The animated cast are an absolute delight and interact energetically with their highly enthusiastic young audience. Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku as Wendy can be forgiven for her somewhat errant accent (slightly British … somewhat not-so-much) because she’s completely endearing and utterly lovely, and she sings beautifully. Daniel Kieth Geddes is Wendy’s younger brother John; he’s also a rather raffish Captain Hook, who’s actual quite wonderfully comical. Danny Meaker is the youngest, sleepiest brother Michael. He’s trying to show his older siblings how brave he is by sleeping out in the back garden with them. Meaker also plays Peter Pan, our well-known protagonist who never wants to grow up, leading Wendy to face her own fears about growing older and leaving childhood behind. Phiphi-Gu’mmy Moletsane is a charming and cheeky Tinkerbell who kids will immediately relate to. She’s mischievous and playful, willing to do anything for her hero Peter Pan.
Based on Mike Kenny’s adaptation of James Barrie’s original Peter Pan, this is a gentle and imaginative way of telling this popular and much-loved story to a far younger audience. The songs are catchy and enjoyable. I’m thinking they’re added in for maximum effect and to hold attention for as long as possible. It certainly works. Parts of the show are interactive and will enthral the young children who sit in front on cushions, and are virtually a part of the actual production. If your child is more sensitive, it might be better to keep them further back with you if you think they might feel slightly intimidated sitting near the front.
I highly recommend this if you have young children. (I’d say from age 4 to about age 12.) Productions at the National Children’s Theatre are of excellent quality, and are one of the best ways to introduce younger audiences to the magic of theatre and imagination.
The theatre is situated at 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown, Johannesburg
Underneath a Magical Moon is on until 15 April 2018.
BOOKINGS: Call the theatre on 011 484 1584/5 or email@example.com
You don’t simply ‘watch’ The Color Purple, you experience it … it’s akin to a religious experience where you immerse yourself in it, and then you emerge afterwards feeling that any piece of theatre hereon after is always going to be compared to this and will be left wanting.
As I drifted out of the auditorium, I caught these snippets from fellow theatre-goers: ‘Extraordinary’! ‘Marvelous’! ‘Simply superb’! Yes, they all spoke using hyperbole because that’s just about all that can be said for this production – if one is not rendered speechless by its sheer excellence.
I’m sure I’m in the vast minority of those who had not previously read the book (written by Alice Walker in 1982) or even seen the film of the same name. So I had only a vague notion of the background and storyline before going to see the show. I’m not sure this makes a difference. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
Within seconds of opening the audience is swept away by the innocent exuberance of Celie (Didintle Khunou) and her sister Nettie (Sebe Leotlela) bursting onto the stage, singing as only children without a care can. But within just short moments we realise this isn’t the case. Time moves swiftly onstage and we see that this simplicity is just a front for the harsh life that the sisters experience. It’s the early 1900’s in the American South: times are tough for young African-American women.
In these times troubles are borne with proud humility. Life dishes out harsh blows, as do the men from whom there seems no escape. However Celie finds shelter from the storm in the unlikely form of Shug Avery, the woman her own husband pines for. Sophisticated, stylish, and with a mind of her own, Shug is the first person to show Celie how to nurture her own individuality. For the first time Celie begins to understand that it might be possible that she’s her own person, and that she might have a chance at having a life of her own, away from the cruelty and appalling conditions inflicted upon her by the loathsome Mister. Khunou plays Celie with dignity, charm and strength and a voice that will capture your heart.
Lerato Mvelase makes an enchanting Shug. She holds everyone in the palm of one hand, while wanting to grab all that life has to offer her with the other. It’s a riveting performance. And in the very eye of the Shug storm is Mister, played with such discerning insight by Aubrey Poo that the audience can’t help but be captivated, first despising him, eventually sympathising with him and by the very end of the show feeling quite fond of him.
Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri as Mister’s son is delightfully endearing, with a voice that proves he’s to be taken a lot more seriously than his character might suggest. But it is Neo Motaung who surprises in her role as Sofia, Harpo’s strong-minded wife. Wow! This is a powerhouse of talent to look out for in future. With a voice that pulsates and resonates into your very core, not to mention a laugh that begs to let you in on the private joke! Motaung is an astonishing treasure that has been unearthed!
The entire cast creates a striking ensemble that moves effortlessly to the choreography of Oscar Buthelezi, and under the baton of Musical Director Rowan Bakker, together with the 8-piece orchestra, they generate a joyful noise that will undoubtedly bring audiences to their feet time and time again in thunderous applause, not only at the conclusion of each performance, but at other moving moments throughout it too.
Director Janice Honeyman has proven time and again that she is the Queen of all she surveys in her field but this time she’s outdone herself, and together with Executive Producer Bernard Jay has crafted a genuine masterpiece! This is an authentic gem of a production, the likes of which one rarely gets the privilege to see. Grab the opportunity while you have the chance! You’ll be so glad you did!
The Colour Purple is on The Mandela Stage at The Joburg Theatre until Sunday March 4th, 2018. Tickets are priced from R240: Telephone 0861 670 670, go online at www.joburgtheatre.com or book in person at the Joburg Theatre box office. Theatre patrons can also book online and pay at selected Pick N Pay stores.
[All photo credits: @enroCpics]
We know SA has world-class comic giants right here in our own country, and Blu Blood, in association with Comedy Central Africa is bringing them to Pretoria next month! This comedy extravaganza sees comic giants from around South Africa entertaining audiences at the Sun Arena Time Square, Menlyn (the first comedic event at the venue) on Saturday, February 10th, 2018.
The all-star line-up includes Riaad Moosa (MC), Alan Committie, Casper de Vries, Donovan Goliath, Gilli Apter, Hannes Brummer, Jason Goliath, Joey Rasdien, Khanyisa Bunu, Krijay Govender, Leeanda Reddy, Marc Lottering, Melt Sieberhagen, Shimmy Isaacs and Sifiso Nene, with a guest appearance by Morgan Beatbox.
“We pride ourselves on bringing world-class South African comedians to stages around the country. You’re getting a massive line-up of headliner comedians from start to finish. We’ve picked the cream of the crop and we’re excited to bring an even bigger and better Kings & Queens of Comedy for the first time to the Sun Arena in 2018,” says Osman Osman, MD of Blu Blood.
Don’t miss the Kings & Queens of Comedy, 10 February, 2018 at the Sun Arena Time Square, Menlyn, Pretoria. Tickets from R150 are available through Computicket online and the various retail outlets.
The show starts at 20h00 and is rated PG16.
Another hilarious production brought to you by Blu Blood in association with Comedy Central Africa.
You can WIN a set of double tickets to see Kings & Queens of Comedy!!!
Just let me know who you’re most looking forward to laughing at in this hilarious lineup on 10 Feb!
Closing date: Tuesday 6 Feb 2018
Winner announced: Wednesday 7 Feb 2018
[About Kings & Queens of Comedy: Going on six years of Kings & Queens of Comedy, the show started in 2012 in Johannesburg and has since grown to be one of the leading comedy brands in South Africa, promoting and showcasing local talent from around the country.]
It’s preview week for Panto 2017! Janice Honeyman’s 30th Pantomime, Pinocchio officially opens over the weekend but this coming week sees the first audiences filling the Joburg Theatre to see what this year’s festive season pantomime has in store. Mostly these previews will be made up of schoolchildren, some of whom have never even set foot inside a theatre before, so this experience will be brand new for them.
Audiences will be thrilled to see favourites like Tobie Cronje (a firm panto favourite), André Schwartz and Garth Collins (Granite of TV’s Gladiators fame) in the cast. But this is will also be a brand new experience for the 3 Panto stars that I chatted to recently, who I christened my ‘Panto Virgins’. Although they’re each highly skilled industry professionals with years of experience under their belts, they’ve never participated in a Janice Honeyman pantomime before so for all of them, this has all been very new and different.
Ilse Klink is no stranger to South African followers of stage and TV, one of her most notable roles being in Isidingo, for which she received an Avanti award in 2000. She’s appeared in a number of TV series, and stage shows, far too numerous to mention, and she’s a much sought after performer due to her versatility and genuine warmth. In fact, Ilse had been about to accept a role in a different project, when the offer to play Bella Bouboulina, The Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, was extended to her! She explains, “I didn’t hesitate in choosing the panto role because of the sheer history of the Janice Honeyman Pantomime!” She had worked briefly with Janice back in 2006, and ever since then she’s wanted what she describes as ‘the full experience’.
For Grant Towers, this year’s Dame, this is a dream role. In his opinion, despite what many may think about open minds and progressive advances having been made, both within the theatre industry and universally, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community is still frowned upon. He laughs, “But every year, people still pay to come and see a man dressed up as the dame, and they all love her and want photo’s with her!” Yes, it’s theatrical irony at its sardonic best. Grant describes the dame this year as an ‘insane, menopausal, Italian woman’ and says that he intends to do that description justice!
And what would Pinocchio be without his alter ego, Jiminy Cricket? Mark Tatham takes on the high energy role of Pinocchio’s conscience, and tells me that he loves the combination of physicality and wisdom that his character manages to encompass. We’re lucky to have Mark with the panto cast as directly from here, he moves on to play Ed the Hyena in the touring company of The Lion King! It’s a 3-year stint where he’ll also understudy Timon and Zazu! An incredible opportunity for this amazingly talented and amiable actor.
So, as we’re chatting, the actors taking advantage of the brief break in their busy rehearsal schedule, one thing becomes distinctly apparent – the magic of the pantomime is safe and sound in the most capable and loving hands of one very unique, special person:
- Janice Honeyman is an extremely highly revered director, not only because of her obvious years of experience which give her gravitas in her field, but as Grant clarifies, “Janice is to be admired for her directness because she gives you a sense of accomplishment in yourself … and she’s not mean!”
- Mark goes on to say, “I love that Janice is so open to any suggestions that the cast offer.”
- Ilse concludes by adding, “You get permission to be a performer with panto, especially with Janice at the helm. Every year you drive past that billboard and you hope, ‘one day, one day’… and then, that call comes and it’s THAT day!”
The excitement that these three performers feel at their upcoming appearance is obvious! They talk about concepts such as vision, belief and putting your dreams out to the universe in order to manifest them into reality, and that’s surely something they’ve all put into practice. Don’t think they’re sitting back after completing their Panto sting. As we’ve already said, Mark’s off to join The Lion King. Grant will be appearing as Brian in Avenue Q from April, and Ilse has not 1, but 2 movies that she’ll be filming, the first on the Orange River from March, and then straight after that another one in Cape Town.
But for now, they can’t wait for that vibrancy that only interaction with a live audience can bring, especially when that audience is made up of such a high percentage of children, who truly allow the enchantment and delight of the onstage wonder to captivate them.
Do yourself a favour: regardless of your age, take a walk away from the ordinary, suspend belief just for a little while and immerse yourself in the fairy-tale world of the Pantomime this festive season!
It’s just a step away … the Blue Fairy, the Dame and Jiminy Cricket await.
Pinocchio opens on The Mandela stage of Joburg Theatre on November 12th and runs until December 30th.
Pinocchio is written and directed by Janice Honeyman, with musical direction by Coenraad Rall and choreography by Nicol Sheraton. Timothy Le Roux is resident director and Dale Scheepers is band leader. The pantomime is produced by Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay, in association with MNet, Jacaranda FM and Your Family Magazine.
Tickets for Pinocchio are on sale from R185: telephone 0861 670 670, go online at www.joburgtheatre.com, or book in person at the Joburg Theatre box office. Patrons can also book and pay via the Nedbank app or walk-in at selected Pick ‘n Pay stores (a full list is available at www.webtickets.co.za/pnpoutlets.aspx) – or book on-line and then pay at any Pick ‘n Pay store.
Every Thursday evening at 19h30, since the end of August, the charismatic Sharon Spiegel Wagner has had South Africans glued to their TV’s watching SABC3’s BEDFORD WIVES, as the local comedy-drama unfolds with her character, the feisty Despina Giannopolous, taking centre stage.
Set in the lavish but seedy Johannesburg east suburb of Bedfordview, Bedford Wives follows the lives of four women and a somewhat sordid community of Bedfordview criminals who, on the surface, live pristine and perfect lives but, behind closed doors, have skeletons in their closets and secrets aplenty.
When her charming restaurateur husband, Marco Giannopoulos, is found dead under a side of lamb and dripping in gourmet olive oil, Bedfordview housewife and Mrs South Africa entrant, Despina, vows to keep the family businesses going – but then learns the real family business is crime…
Nothing is at it seems…
I’m not ashamed to say I’m completely hooked, and won’t miss an episode! It’s completely addictive, and ticks all the boxes for unmissable TV!
I recently sat down for coffee and a chat with Sharon to find out what life’s been like for her since Bedford Wives hit our TV screens – and if you haven’t caught on yet (we’re already 9 episodes in with just 5 left), you can catch up on YouTube where you’ll find all past episodes.
And indeed, nothing is as it seems, because Sharon is quite delightful; modest and unassuming and not at all like her onscreen persona, Despina, who is very much the typical ‘Bedford Wife’ and wouldn’t be caught outside of the house (or probably inside, for that matter) without her full armour of make up, designer clothing and killer heels!
Although Sharon’s first love is definitely musical theatre, her experience on Bedford Wives has been so positive that it’s quite encouraged her to explore the possibility of further TV roles in the future. She wasn’t initially asked to audition for the role of Despina, and in fact, was the very last person to audition for the part. Just an hour later, she got a call from her agent to say she’d got the job. Sharon describes her complete shock at hearing the news, but once she realised that it was actually true, she was (I quote) “sublimely excited”. And it’s proved to be a dream from beginning to end with the entire cast and crew being not only amazing to work with, but also completely understanding and flexible around Sharon’s other role: that of being mom to her 2 young daughters, one of who was just a few months old at the time of filming the series.
It was this that made Sharon realise that she might quite like to pursue more TV work in the future as it’s more adaptable to family life. She loves the art of acting and has grown enough within it to know what’s right for her and what isn’t. When she knows a role’s not for her, she’s excited to see who will play it. This is the mark of a true professional, or as Sharon so aptly describes it: “There’s an actor that loves the art, and there’s the actor that loves himself in the art.” That individual who purely loves himself in the role, and who cannot bring himself to rejoice in the success of a colleague is not quite there yet, regardless of whatever talents may have been bestowed on them.
When asked if she’d be happy for her kids to work in a similar or related industry to the one she’s currently in, knowing what she knows about all of the demands and drawbacks as well as the constant struggles and one-upmanship that the business is notorious for, Sharon’s immediate reaction is “Preferably not!”
But then … on reflection … she reconsiders. She feels that no matter what career they decide to follow (even if they want to become actors), there has to be understanding, appreciation and love for what one does, and they need to feel a true purpose for what they’re doing. When it comes to sensitivity they need to know how the business works. She reiterates, “… especially this business.”
For now, Sharon is taking a break, spending time with her kids and thoroughly enjoying watching them grow. She’d love to do more TV work, and is thrilled that Bedford Wives has opened up new horizons for her. We shared our strong views on how absolutely crucial it is for women to support each other and encourage each other. So often though, you find the opposite happening – we tear each other apart, instead of building each other up! Here once again, Sharon returns to the Bedford Wives set, speaking admiringly of her female director who allowed her the freedom to add her own interpretation into her role of Despina, or as she describes it, “a bit of quirk,” and who put her at complete ease with some scenes that she might otherwise have felt quite uncomfortable performing.
So, what’s next after this break? “Something BIG … I hope,” laughs Sharon, explaining that this is usually the work pattern that she follows. Whether it’s back on stage, where she feels most at home, or on our TV screens playing another feisty, go-getting, glitzy leading lady, Sharon puts heart and soul into everything she does, so whatever it is, we know it’s going to be fabulously fantastic!!
(But … no pressure, or anything!)
All screenings will be free to the public, courtesy of Ster-Kinekor.
Continuing in its efforts to bring the best of foreign language films to local audiences, Cinema Nouveau will host the 5th Turkish Film Festival from 29 September-22 October 2017 at the Cinema Nouveau theatres in Cape Town (V&A Waterfront, from 29 September – 1 October), in Pretoria (Brooklyn Mall, from 6-8 October), in Johannesburg (Rosebank Mall, from 13-15 October) and in Durban (Gateway Mall, from 20-22 October).
The Turkish Film Festival is made possible with the valuable support of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture and Tourism of Turkey, in collaboration with Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau. Globally well-known companies Turkish Airlines, Defy, CISCO and Radisson Blu (Sandton) are also sponsoring the festival.
The selection of films at the Festival are in line with Cinema Nouveau’s unique service offering. The festival is a great opportunity for South Africans to experience the Turkish tradition and culture more closely through the best examples of contemporary Turkish cinema. Cinema Nouveau is the best cinema in which to have a full-on customer experience and appreciation of the film and arts.
Film and arts lovers can look forward to a selection of five fantastic films:
The showcase movie of the festival is My Mother’s Wound. This ambitious drama is directed by Ozan Aciktan and draws attention to the remnants of the Bosnian war. A gripping tale of family, love and identity, My Mother’s Wound follows Salih as he searches for a trail of hope amongst war-torn lives. Upon turning eighteen, Salih leaves the orphanage to find his lost family and begins working in a Serbian farm. Suddenly, at the most unexpected moment he has found a home. Will he ever be able to let go of the ghosts of his past and be happy in this new life? As tension escalates disquieting secrets surface.
Unique Life, a comedy film from Çağan Irmak, one of Turkey’s most beloved and popular filmmakers, tells the story of Nadide, who is searching for happiness after the death of her husband. Now over 50, Nadide once chose marriage over college and a career and struggled to keep her family together. After losing her husband, Nadide reads an article in the paper and decides to enrol in college. There she finds herself in a journey setting sail to a new start at life with a group of young students and a mysterious captain.
Inspired by the novel of acclaimed writer Cengiz Aytmatov, The Girl with the Red Scarf is a classic and endlessly watchable love story that never dates. It is said, in fact, that the French poet Aragon described The Girl with the Red Scarf as “the world’s greatest love story”. What is love? What makes a lover? What makes a spouse? What makes a father? And which is harder: to go back or not to go back?
Eyvah Eyvah 2 is a comedy, and the second instalment of the Eyvah Eyvah Trilogy. Hüseyin is a young clarinetist living with his grandparents in a village in Turkey’s Thracian region. Two things are of great importance in Hüseyin’s life: his clarinet and his fiancée. In the first film Hüseyin was forced to go to Istanbul and leave behind his beloved village in order to search for his real father, teaming up with an eccentric nightclub singer, called Firuzan. After finding his father, Hüseyin tries to reach his fiancé, who moves to a small village in the Turkish countryside.
Husband Factor, is the story of Efsun (30) seeking true love and a romantic relationship rather than a husband (sounds like a wise woman to me!). She is the black sheep of her peers and the women of her family who are programmed for marriage. She is seeking love but doesn’t know what most girls know; how to strike an attitude, or how to manipulate a man (in other words, she’s too genuine and people have no clue how to handle that!). Hence, she has not had a single steady relationship to date. The good news is that she has her family to fall back on. Her family members are all dedicated to initiating Efsun into the intricacies of womanhood and ensuring that she gets hitched into the “happily ever after”. Efsun surrenders herself into the capable hands of these women.
Although all screenings will be free to public, tickets still need to be booked and can be collected at the participating cinema box-offices one hour prior to each show. For more information, and booking details, visit the Cinema Nouveau website at www.cinemanouveau.co.za.
Ster Kinekor are bringing Stephen King fans TWO much anticipated movies from their favourite writer in September, and they promise not to disappoint!
THE DARK TOWER – Release date: 8 September
The Dark Tower, the epic story from Stephen King, one of the world’s most-celebrated authors, makes its long-awaited launch to the big screen. And ladies, if you’re despairing at the thought of having to sit through yet another movie that sounds like ‘man-fodder’, this one stars Idris Elba as Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black!! So really, it already ticks all the boxes!
The Dark Tower is an ambitious mixture of action, adventure and fantasy, telling the story of the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black. Tom Taylor stars as Jake Chambers, a New York boy who becomes Roland’s apprentice.
For many of his stalwart fans, The Dark Tower is arguably King’s greatest, standout achievement. Despite being renowned for writing mainly horror stories, this fits more into the genre of action fantasy, possibly attracting a wider audience
Watch The Dark Tower trailer here:
The film’s run time is 91 minutes
IT – Release Date – 15 September
Who remembers IT? (Am I giving away my age?) This book was responsible for an entire generation’s clown phobia (which they possibly passed on to their children)!
This one is not for the faint-hearted but promises to be a feast for the senses of all horror movie buffs. Based on Stephen King’s famed novel of the same name, the film is set in the town of Derry (where King set quite a few of his novels – so possibly a place to avoid if you’re not into the whole horror thing!), where the local kids are disappearing one by one, leaving behind just bloody remains. The film is intended to be the first instalment in a planned duology.
In a place known as “The Barrens”, a group of seven kids are united by their horrifying and strange encounters with an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries. The kids bond over their determination to kill it. The horror and terror can truly be appreciated on the big screen as the kids walk through a scary tunnel and peer through the sewers where IT lives. Even if you wanted to look away when the horror unfolds, you won’t be able to take your eyes of the screen.
Jaeden Lieberher and Bill Skarsgård star as Bill Denbrough, and Pennywise, the Dancing Clown, respectively, with Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis and Finn Wolfhard in supporting roles.
The film’s time is 135 minutes … if you ask me, that is a VERY long time, and a LOT of horror … but that’s just my opinion. If you can’t wait for the 15th, you can watch the trailer here – do so at your own risk (I must be honest, I just don’t have the nerves!!):