The minute that invitation to the annual year-end pantomime hits your Inbox, your heart gives a little thump of joy … and not just because it signifies that the holidays are around the corner!
This is Janice Honeyman’s 30th pantomime, which is an achievement in itself. The fact that she continues to get it right, drawing in audiences, surprising and delighting the crowds every year, is a testament to her sheer talent and skill. She has a gift of knowing the perfect recipe to thrill her audiences, and Pinocchio, her offering this year is certainly no different. There’s just the right balance of innuendo, political lampooning and catchy tunes (both new and old) to hold the attention of all ages throughout the show. This combines with some truly eye-popping, phenomenal sets and an energetic cast who are all clearly fully immersed in the magical world they’re responsible for creating.
I’m positive that part of Janice’s ongoing ability to succeed at exciting her panto audiences year in and year out, is her own inclusive participation in the process. She’s not merely a writer and director who sits back and watches things happen statically as she’s penned it. When I interviewed some of the cast members during the rehearsal process, the common thread they all spoke about was Janice’s method of character development: allowing each actor to make the role their own and not merely something she’d put down on paper.
Returning to the age-old panto tradition of females taking on male lead roles, Pinocchio, the little wooden puppet who yearns to be a ‘real boy’, is played by Kanyi Nokwe who gives a stellar performance. Her endearing wonderment at the world around her/him is delightful, as is her excellent portrayal of a puppet, unable to move as fluidly as her human counterparts.
The much-loved Tobie Cronje returns to the panto stage as the bumbling Geppetto, who’s always longed for a son. He’s pursued by the hilarious Dame Arletti Spaghetti, played with uproarious aplomb by Grant Towers, in bright, brash, full-on technicolour! She happens to conveniently have a son available, the lazy Lampwick played with appropriate ‘too cool for school’ laid back, nonchalance by Ben Kgosimore. For some reason though, he’s not quite what Gepetto’s looking for in an offspring!
Mark Tatham bounces around the stage with boundless (actually, seemingly endless) vim and verve as a rather whimsical Jiminy Cricket, instructed by Bella Bouboulina, The Blues Fairy (you read that right – she’s a ‘Blues’ fairy with Southern flair) to be Pinocchio’s conscience. Ilse Klink, seasoned professional of SA stage and screen gives the role her own sprinkling of sparkling pizazz: she’s classy, funny, playful and just the right amount of bossy when she needs to be!
And panto always needs its villains doesn’t it? This year, we have André Schwartz as Il Fortunato the Fox who, although not quite as evil as his previous panto counterparts, is quite happy to ham it up as a foxy Phantom of the Opera – it’s inspired and the audience adored it! He’s accompanied by the brilliant Chi Mhende as Pussy Galore. Her claws are permanently out, and she’s wicked enough for the both of them!
The lighting and special effects are spectacular, all complemented by a tight, dynamic ensemble, complete with fresh-faced youngsters from Born to Perform (Stageworx School of Performing Arts).
Being panto, one does tend to slightly lose sight of the theme of the original story being told as it usually gets diluted in the inevitable tweaking of the plot. The actual background of Pinocchio is particularly pertinent to this time of year. It’s all about family values, listening to your conscience and doing the right thing despite all the pressure that’s thrown at you from all sides – and in this day and age it does seem that this happens literally from the day you’re born, as happens to Pinocchio, who candidly proclaims “I’m only one day old!” He still needs to muddle through the ups and downs of the challenges he’s faced with, as one does in life, learning who he can and can’t trust along the way, and having a whole bunch of entertaining and hair-raising adventures while doing so. And we, the audience, are lucky enough to join him on the journey.
Pinocchio, The Ultimate Pantomime Adventure is currently on the Mandela Stage of the Joburg Theatre until December 30th 2017.
To purchase tickets, visit www.joburgtheatre.com or call 0861 670 670. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Joburg Theatre box office or by booking and paying via the Nedbank app and at selected Pick n Pay stores.
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.
Situated on 15 hectares of landscaped gardens and waterways within an extensive private nature reserve in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, NIROX Sculpture Park is renowned for its magnificent views, picturesque scenery, and overall tranquil locale. In recent years, it’s also earned a superior reputation for holding exhibitions and festivals of eminent worth, relating to all areas of contemporary art.
This weekend, NIROX presents its newest festival: NIROX |WORDS, the title being “Why The World…”, which invites artists and audience to finish the question as they may … why the world is the mess that it is … the challenge and the joy … why is it at all?
I posed a few questions to Batya Bricker, the festival’s Books Programme Coordinator, to get some background and understanding as to what exactly this festival is all about:
Q: So, obviously, my first question (actually more like 3 questions) is why WORDS now? After so many years of NIROX art, photography, music and sculpture? Where did the idea come from? What was the initial vision and has this materialised (so far) as was hoped? Where did the theme ‘Why the World …’ come from?
A: (I combined these questions because its part of one answer.)
Our world is in chaos. Can we do things differently to change this trajectory? Are there alternative ways to dissecting problems, and finding new solutions? Can words help us think differently? Create a new reality? Engage differently? The idea behind NIROX|WORDS is an exploration of how words can change the world – or not. All the art, music, poetry and book discussions explore this idea in different ways.
Q: How long has it taken from formulating the idea, to bring this to life?
A: About a year
Q: Did you have to approach all of the participants or did the word get out and did some of them start contacting you, saying that they want to be part of this?
A: A little of both. The idea that we need to approach our world in a different way is gaining traction across all walks of life and all over the globe. Whilst we approached some authors and artists, there were many who jumped at the opportunity to contribute to this conversation through their craft. This idea resonates with the zeitgeist.
Q: Where to from here?
A: We hope to make WORDS an annual weekend event attracting both local and international talent across all art forms.
And so, there you have it in a nutshell. To really get to grips with NIROX|WORDS though, you’ll have to just attend the festival this weekend and take in all the wonderful delights that the programme has to offer. There are a diverse range of talks, performances and films; an entire childrens’ section and of course various places to feed your body as well as your mind!
The programme starts at 10h00 on both Saturday and Sunday.
There are several ticketing options, so for a full list of these, to make your booking and get details of the festival programme, and everything else about NIROX (including how to get there), go to http://niroxwords.com/
HOP ON THE BUS TO FABULOUS!
From the minute the curtain goes up and the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert launches into their enthusiastic, energetic opening number: It’s Raining Men – complete with 3 sparkly, shimmering Diva’s suspended above their heads – you know you’re in for a helluva ride! And that’s exactly what you get when you take your seat for this proudly South African production that takes you on the journey of a lifetime across the Australian outback.
In case you don’t know, this is the touching story of three drag queens who travel across Australia on a rather decrepit bus, which they fondly name Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. On their journey they discover the true meaning of friendship, love and unfortunately also meet up with the animosity that accompanies those who have no understanding of anyone or anything ‘different’. It’s a timeless tale of how strong bonds are formed, how hatred and derision continue to exist despite the advances that we think are being made, and how ultimately we all have the need to be accepted for who we are, regardless of our differences.
Daniel Buys is perfect in the role of Tick (Mitzi); delightfully up-beat, while seamlessly able to shift into a more restrained, reflective mood when his role requires it. And it’s certainly needed as he secretly has more than one reason to be schlepping around the
outback in a broken-down bus! He ropes in flighty Adam (Felicia) to join him on his mission, and Felicia has a goal of her very own. Apart from just wanting to have a good time, she’s always wanted to belt out a Kylie number on top of Ayers rock, because who doesn’t love the thought of ‘a cock in a frock on a rock’! Phillip Schnetler camps up the role with spot-on, screaming hilarity (and a touch of Jack from Will & Grace)! The trio is complete with dignified, slightly aging transsexual Bernadette who feels she’s possibly past her prime, but willing to go out with a bang (so to speak!). David Dennis plays the role with gracious grandeur, back-biting as wickedly as any self-respecting old queen would! And I just have to add here, out of these three, I just can’t decide who has the best pair of legs … they’re all to die for!!
Mentions must go to the all too fabulous, stupendously over-the-top Miss-Understanding, Tshepo Ncokoane; Candice van Litsenborgh who hams it up as the most hilarious mullet ever, complete with humungous boobs bouncing all over the stage (almost); Chantal Herman as a cheeky mail-order bride who’s sick and tired of being overlooked; and last but most definitely not least, veteran actor, James Borthwick who plays the simple, but simply adorable, big-hearted mechanic, who might just have more to him than meets the eye.
Ultimately though, producers Hazel Feldman and Tony Feldman of Showtime Management have put together a cracker of a team who have have masterfully overseen all the minutiae of this show, ensuring that they collaborate perfectly to make it the glitter and glitz extravaganza that it is. Director Anton Luitingh keeps things crisp, smart and snappy and technical director Alistair Kilbee oversees the constant ebb and flow of the pizazz that abounds throughout. Resident choreographer, Duane Alexander ensures (I have no clue how) that the 28-strong cast gets every step in synch, in heels nogal! Brian Schimmel, one of SA’s top music directors leads the 9-piece orchestra through numerous well-loved numbers (I Say a Little Prayer, Don’t Leave Me This Way, True Colours, I Will Survive … and many more) that will have audiences singing at the top of their lungs, not only during the show, but when they leave too!
And as for the costumes … the headdresses, the shoes … they’ll simply take your breath away! There’s so much colour, so much to look at … it’s a feast for the eyes and an extreme celebration of the imagination!
Best of all though is the utter enjoyment that shines from the face of each and every cast member. This is a show that begs for an audience, and has audiences begging for more
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a must-see. It’s fabulous fun, thoroughly entertaining, and if you don’t walk out of that theatre with a huge smile on your face, then you lied and didn’t actually see the show!
It’s on at the Teatro, Montecasino until 18 June, 2017.
BOOKINGS: Computicket by calling 0861 915 8000, or visit www.computicket.com
This musical contains some strong language and adult themes, therefore parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12
THE GOLIATH COMEDY EXPERIENCE 2017 GOLIATHX2017
What’s that you said … we South Africans don’t have much to laugh about? Are you kidding me?!
If you’re feeling a bit down in the mouth then we’ve got some fabulous, funny-bone news for you! South Africa’s best friends of Comedy, Goliath & Goliath, in association with Comedy Central and Savanna, are bringing you The Goliath Comedy Experience 2017.
With last year welcoming over 2000 festival-goers, adoring sold out shows and standing ovations over one weekend, this year #GoliathX2017 will be spreading the funny over a 7 day period with the biggest and newest names in comedy, from 24 to 30 April, at Africa’s premium comedy club, the Goliath Comedy Club in Melrose Arch, Joburg!
You can catch some of comedy’s greats such as Joey Rasdien, Tol A$$ Mo and John Vlismas, legends Joe Parker, Roni Modimola and Mark Banks or next generation funnies like Glen Biderman-Pam and Beach all on the Goliath Comedy Club stage.
And the biggest scoop of all: Donovan, Jason and Nicholas Goliath will be performing their first ever three-man experiential comedy show as a prelude to the launch of their national tour!
Whether you’re a new or somewhat veteran fan of comedy – with these tailor-made comedy offerings, there’s bound to be something for everyone!
Here’s the line-up for the week:
MONDAY 24 APRIL 2017 – NEXT GEN Brought to you by Savanna:
Talented open spot comedians are a dime a dozen, so 10 of the most popular up-and-comers were chosen to take to the stage, give of their best, entertain and show you where they are going. There’s no competition here, no battles, just brand new next generation funny.
TUESDAY 25 APRIL 2017 – OLDS COOL:
This proved to be one of the biggest hits of the 2016 Goliath Comedy Experience. It features some of SA’s Comedy legends who continue to keep things as funny and as relevant as ever..
WEDNESDAY 26 APRIL 2017 – 30in5 Brought to you by Savanna:
With no host, 30 comedians will all be doing 5 minutes each … anything could happen! The line-up is a mix of well-established comics and youngsters who’ve been doing this since … last week. There’s no hierarchy, each comic will draw a number out of a hat and depending on the number they choose, that’s where they’ll appear on the line-up. Expect it to be fast paced, witty and hilariously entertaining!
THURSDAY 27 APRIL 2017 – GOLIATH & GOLIATH:
Prepare for side-splitting hilarity as SA’s comic trio, Donovan, Jason and Nicholas Goliath launch their national tour with their first three-man experiential comedy show.
FRIDAY 28 & SATURDAY 29 APRIL 2017 – HEADLINERS:
The most popular show from last year’s launch event, for obvious reasons, a heavy hitting show featuring a mix of South African comedic greats. And there’s no excuse for missing it because there are two shows this year!
Tickets for the Goliath Comedy Experience are on sale now at www.goliathcomedyclub.com
Make sure you don’t miss out! Follow all the updates on Goliath Comedy Club via social media:
Facebook: Goliath Comedy Club
The Full Morty : The Fringe @ Joburg Theatre – 8:00pm, Friday, 31 March 2017
Live Jukebox : The Fringe @ Joburg Theatre – 8:00pm, Saturday, 1 April 2017
THE FULL MORTY and LIVE JUKEBOX have both previously enjoyed highly successful seasons, and Ginger Cube Productions have listened to audience demand are are bringing back this double dose of fun over one weekend, re-staging BOTH shows – for one night only – on Friday 31 March (The Full Morty) and Saturday 1 April (Live Jukebox) at The Fringe Theatre, Joburg Theatre. Both shows are at 8pm.
THE FULL MORTY
Tickets : R120
Critically acclaimed actor, madly talented vocalist and professional k*k talker Mortimer Williams navigates that unchartered territory which fascinates us all (especially females)… the mind of the South African male.
It’s a mash-up of stand-up comedy and cabaret in this hilarious show as Morty takes us through stories and songs while attempting to demonstrate just what it is that makes the SA male tick… with a few surprises along the way!
Morty is the perfect combination; a triple threat of talent, charisma and devilish naughtiness which all combines for a perfect evening of entertainment for guys and girls of all ages (as long as they’re over 16).
The Full Morty first opened in April 2015 and has exploded onto the SA theatre scene, playing two successful seasons at the Joburg Theatre and two sell-out National Arts Festivals in Grahamstown (2015/2016).
Discounted tickets for groups of ten or more, scholars, students and pensioners are at R100 each and available only by calling Joburg Theatre directly on (011) 877 6853/6815.
Tickets : R120
It’s the only live musical game show in the country! And it’s back for another kick-ass evening of musical mayhem!
Live Jukebox is the brainchild of Ginger Cube Productions. It made its debut at the 2016 National Arts Festival and has been performing to raucous crowds ever since.
Seasoned entertainer Mortimer Williams (of Skeem Saam fame) and theatre personality Kristy Suttner collaborate in this musical rollercoaster that gets audiences tapping their feet and bopping in the aisles. They’re supported by a 4-piece live band, lead by musical genius Saranti Reeders.
So how does it work?
Remember the TV game shows Liriekeraai and Noot vir Noot? What about Don’t Forget the Lyrics or Whose Line is it Anyway?
Live Jukebox is a musical gameshow where the audience calls the shots. In the safe hands of the on-stage team, contestants are led through various games from music trivia to lipsync battles; guess the note and more, with the audience selecting the genre for each game, such as pop, rock, local and decades 60’s through 90’s.
Whether you’re into quietly tapping your foot to your favourite Parlotones classic or unleashing your inner Diva on stage with a Whitney Houston impersonation, Live Jukebox has something for everyone.
As that jukebox is played, the audience decides the content of the show and how their night will turn out, ensuring that no two shows are the same.
Book your seat for Joburg’s sensational musical comedy gameshow and experience a night out at the theatre that will leave you begging for more!
Discounted tickets for groups of ten or more, scholars, students and pensioners are at R100 each and available only by calling Joburg Theatre directly on (011) 877 6853/6815.
The duration of the show is 1 hour 30 minutes including an interval with no age restriction.
You can also purchase tickets to see BOTH shows for a R150 package deal.
Pieter Toerien presents the FUNNIEST COMEDY EVER on stage!
The play follows a theatre troupe as they struggle to get through a run of their murder mystery without succumbing to the disasters surrounding them: falling set pieces, sticking doors, missed cues, anything covered under Murphy’s Law!
Pieter Toerien says: “The PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is the FUNNIEST play I have EVER seen!”
Joanna Lumley after seeing a recent London performance said: “We laughed until the tears ran down our faces! It has to be seen!!!”
WHAT’S ON STAGE said “It’s as though The Mousetrap has been taken over by Monty Python!”
Described by theatre audiences as Fawlty Towers meets Noises Off – this new hit comedy has won every major award on the London stage – 2015 Olivier Award Winner for Best New Comedy/ 2015 BroadwayWorld UK Winner for Best New Play/ 2014 WhatsOnStage Award Winner for Best New Comedy! The South African production is by Alan Committie and features a fabulous comedy cast which includes ROBERT FRIDJHON, RUSSEL SAVADIER, THEO LANDEY, CRAIG JACKSON, ROBERTO POMBO, NICOLE FRANCO, LOUIS VILJOEN and SIVE GUBANGXA.
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG celebrates the best of live theatre… and the worst:
The Northriding Polytechnic Drama Society is putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does! The accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences!
Given 5 stars from The Daily Mail, called a ‘Gut-busting hit’ by the New York Times and with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Ant and Dec ‘funniest show we’ve seen! If you can get a ticket go.’
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is guaranteed to leave you aching with laughter!
RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs 5 mins (including a 20 min interval)
Recommended Age: 8+
South African audiences will be treated to the award-winning Comedy from 24 March in Jo’Burg and 3 May in Cape Town.
Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre: 24 March – 30 April
Performances: Wed – Fri @ 8pm, Sat @ 5pm & 8pm, Sun @ 3pm
Tickets: R220, R180, R130 & R100
Theatre on the Bay: 3 May – 17 June
Performances: Tue – Fri @ 8pm, Sat @ 4pm & 8pm
Tickets: R220, R180 & R120