Theatre

SILVER LININGS SONGBOOK BRINGS SILVER LINING TO A SPECIAL FAMILY

ONE DAY ONLY … ONE STAGE … ALL STAR CAST … SA’S TOP PERFORMERS … JONATHAN ROXMOUTH … TIMOTHY MOLOI … BRYAN SCHIMMEL … ILSE KLINK … and many more!

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”
― Shannon L. Alder

The Sakellarides/ Devar family are an integral part of the theatre community. Theatre makers, supporters and the like are familiar with this talented unit, and those who have had the fortune of personally becoming a part of their lives, or even briefly interacting with them, all agree unanimously that this family are the warmest, kindest, most generous bunch of people, in an industry that is often extremely cruel.

Over the past few years, the family were faced with the misfortune of Nik Sakellarides falling very ill and ending up in intensive care on two lengthy, different occasions.

This was a very dark time for Brenda Sakellarides who managed to pull through, and with Nik’s strong recovery finally saw the light of day, despite the emotional and financial strain.

But just when life started normalising, another devastating bit of news came to the fore: their 16 year old son Ziya Devar was diagnosed with aggressive Ulcerative Colitis.

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in your digestive tract. It affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. It can be debilitating, sometimes leading to life-threatening complications. While it has no known cure, treatment can greatly reduce signs and symptoms of the disease, even bringing about long-term remission.

About two and a half months ago, Nik took to Facebook, asking the Theatre/ Entertainment Community and beyond to please assist Brenda and the family with any donations they could contribute towards the increasingly exhorbitant medical costs for Ziya’s recovery.

This sparked Owen Lonzar’s idea to produce a show with some of the biggest names in the theatre industry, to raise money so that young Ziya and his family can fight this illness without worrying about the financial burden placed on them.

Lonzar explains: “There are genuinely very few good people in the world, who are always willing to help others. Brenda and Nik are always willing to help others. They are very special people, so I thought I need to do this. It’s also great because the community are involved. We don’t always have the money to give in this industry, so at least if these artists can perform, other people can buy tickets. It’s also important to be actively involved. We have a small community and we need to be able to look after each other, and this is one way that we can.”

Caitlin Clerk came on board to assist with administrative detail, and a wonderful night of music, musical theatre, talent and of course, community and giving has been organised to entertain audiences, but more importantly to raise money for Ziya’s recovery.

Silver Linings Songbook takes place on Sunday, 24 June 2018 at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square at 18h30. As this show sold out so quickly, an additional matinee has been added at 15h30!

Tickets cost just R200 each!

Never again and nowhere else will you get the opportunity to see such a fabulous lineup of South Africa’s top theatre talent performing on one stage, for a bargain price like this!

Can’t make it but still want to participate? Call the theatre on (011) 883-8606 and ask for a ‘ghost ticket’ … they’ll know what you’re talking about! 

Bookings through computicket.com or call (011) 883-8606. If you can, try and go to to a Computicket kiosk and pay cash – they’ve been tremendously awesome and waivered their fee for the show if you do this!!! 

Not only will you be helping others in need, but the line up of performers boasts some of the best talent in the country. This includes Jonathan Roxmouth, Timothy Moloi, Angela Killian, Sylvaine Strike, Ilse Klink, Bryan Schimmel (piano solo), Itu Sings, Kiruna – Lind Devar, Noni Mkhonto, Judy Ditchfield, Dolly Louw, Andrea Shine, Natasha van der Merwe, Caitlin Clerk, Nqobile Sipamla, Tonya Koenderman, Hayley Christian Francis, Luciano Zuppa, Dennis East, Claire Taylor and Toni Morkel.

Special Appearance from Kate Monster (aka Ashleigh Harvey) from Avenue Q, and Malcolm Terrey will be MCing the event.

A huge thank you to Daphne Kuhn for the use of the Auto & General Theatre on the Square, and to all the artists and crew involved in the giving of their time for such an important cause.

Book now for Silver Linings Songbook on Sunday, 24 June 2018 at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square.

 

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It’s Well Worth a Visit to Mr Green

Visiting Mr Green 1‘Visiting Mr Green’, currently onstage at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square has been getting such rave reviews that Daphne Kuhn has added an extra (final) show – Sunday 10 June, 3pm.
This exceptional production features superb performances from both Michael Richard and Roberto Pombo. It’s most ably directed by Alan Swerdlow with a set designed by Denis Hutchinson, that will instantly transport you into the typical realms of a Manhattan inhabited by those who still maintain their own little corner of Eastern Europe … in America.
Be prepared to run a gamut of emotions as you enter the home and heart of elderly Mr Green, struggling to come to terms with facing life without his beloved soulmate. He’s alone with his fading memories until young, sassy executive, Ross Gardiner unexpectedly shows up, tasked with spending time with Green as community service in return for almost knocking him over!

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Together they manage to navigate the choppy waters of what it means to be alone in modern Manhattan, dealing with the judgment, intolerance and narrow-mindedness of others, about all manner of matters. And surprisingly they realise they have a lot to learn from each other, as well as a lot to share.
Visiting Mr Green is absolutely unmissable! It is heartwarming in a way that many modern scripts just aren’t. This year it celebrates its 20th anniversary!
Book through Computicket or by calling the theatre in 011 883 8606.

WOZA ALBERT! makes an always welcome return

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Back by popular demand, Joburg Theatre is proud to present Woza Albert! by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon, on The Fringe Theatre stage from Friday 1 June – Sunday 17 June.

Woza Albert! will always remain as one of the most vibrant examples of satirical anti-apartheid South African Theatre,  demonstrating innovation and creativity during one of the most pivotal and ground-breaking periods of theatre in this country.

Woza Albert! is still a relevant story today, which is why it’s a school set-work in the South African GDE school curriculum, and therefore essential viewing for learners. The theatre piece offers a great tool for audience development while assisting with the school curriculum. The play portrays so much truth and clarifies a simple approach to the human condition, therefore making it continually relevant to South Africa.

Segomotso Modise and Hamilton Dlamini play the roles of various black South Africans – a vendor, barber, domestic worker, manual labourer and soldier – each receiving the news that Christ (Morena) has arrived in South Africa, where they live under a Calvinist, white elite imposed apartheid.

2018 SAFTA award winner for Best Actor – TV Soap/Telenovela, Hamilton Dlamini, had a starring role as bumbling private investigator TT in the Mzansi Magic comedy series Boomba and TT, in 2012.  In 2015 he had a starring role as Mnqobi Simelane, a self-made man in his 40s who is in a polygamous marriage with two wives and a possible third, in the e.tv drama series Umlilo.

Segomotso Modise started his theatre career in 2005 starring in a production titled ‘Question Mark’ which earned him the award best actor in the leading role in the stop crime drama festival.  In 2014 he made his musical debut when he starred in MARIKANA – THE MUSICAL by Aubrey Sekhabi which walked away with 6 Naledi awards, and after a sensational performance in the musical he was called to star in the recent musical TAKING BACK THE FUTURE by Tshepo Ratona and Presley Chweneyagae. His television work includes an awareness ad for children and women abuse and a Guest appearance in a popular local sitcom Ga Re Dumele. His international tours include Germany, Amsterdam, Austria, Poland and the UK, with various acclaimed award winning plays like ‘Interracial’ & ‘Rocksburg’, to name just a couple.

These two theatre veterans make it easy for audiences to relate in the new South Africa, where people are desperate for a better life despite their political freedom. The parts played by Bheki and Hamilton show off their skills in acting, mime, singing and dance. They also have the unique ability to create images using a few words and actions.

The play is a political satire that imagines the second coming of Christ in apartheid-era South Africa. It looks at a wide range of characters in South Africa at the beginning of the 1980s and attacks the pass laws that prevented Black people from moving freely at the time. The production uses the metaphor of Morena (Jesus) to show what would happen if he came back to South Africa during apartheid. Would he like what he saw? And if he saw the atrocities of the time then why would he not do anything about them?

Woza Albert! will be on stage at The Fringe Theatre @ Joburg Theatre from 1 – 17 June 2018.

Performance times:
There are morning performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11h00.

Fridays and Saturdays at 20h00.

Sundays at 15h00.

Tickets are priced from R70.00 and are available by visiting www.joburgtheatre.com , through Webtickets or by calling 0861 670 670.  Special pension discounts are available.

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Segomotso Modise and Hamilton Dlamini

CHILDREN’S THEATRE REVIEW – Underneath A Magical Moon

underneath-a-magical-moon_logohrWritten 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)!

Pic 6 Peter Pan (Danny Meaker), Tinkerbell (Phiphi-Gu'mmy Moletsane), Wendy (Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku) John (Daniel Kieth Geddes).

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.

Pic 9 Danny Meaker, Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku, Daniel Kieth Geddes & Phiphi-Gu'mmy Moletsane.

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 bookings@nctt.org.za

Pic 7 Group Pictures. Phiphi-Gu'mmy Moletsanw, Danny Meaker, & Danial Kieth Geddes.

The Color Purple – Taking Audiences on a Spectacular Journey

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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.

Color Purple 1Within 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.Color Purple 7

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!

Color Purple 6The 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]

Pinocchio – It’s a Real Panto!

Kanyi Nokwe (Pinocchio) 2The 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.

Pinocchio'17 (225)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 (Cricket) & Ilse Klink (Bella, Blues Fairy)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!

Andre Schwartz (Fox) & Chi Mhende (Cat)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).

Pinocchio'17 (21)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.

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PINOCCHIO – A Magical Pantomime Adventure For The Whole Family

PinnochioIt’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.

 

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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’.

 

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Photo Credit: Corne Du Plessis

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!

 

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Photo Credit: Corne Du Plessis

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.

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Photo Credit: Corne Du Plessis

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.

 

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