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
Once again, it’s panto season, which means Christmas and the silly season are upon us … the most wonderful time of the year! And for the 29th time, Janice Honeyman presents us with her year-end pantomime. This year, it’s a brand new offering … Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood. Partnering once again with producer Bernard Jay, this is a bit of a mash-up of stories, all merged together to create an absolutely delightful couple of hours where audiences can immerse themselves in sheer fantasy and fun!
Izak Davel (currently playing hunky Bradley Haines on our small screens in Isidingo) makes his panto debut as the well-meaning Robin Hood. He hangs out in the forest with his band of Merry Men (they’re ‘butch’!), and doesn’t seem to realise that pretty Maid Marian, played by the beautiful Carmen Pretorius (also Bradley’s love interest, Tiffany in Isidingo) is trying to catch his eye. She’s not too phased though, she’s far from a damsel in distress, until the evil Sheriff of Rottingham, errrm, sorry, Nottingham, decides to claim her as his latest conquest! Gasp! Renowned stage and screen actor, Graham Hopkins throws himself into the role with gusto … and hilarious results.
Meanwhile the Sheriff’s evil sister-in-law, played with true panto elegance and style by LJ Urbani, is plotting to do away with her down-trodden husband’s two kids, Tokkel and Tina (actually Hansel and Gretel, but this is Mzansi you know!). And while Robin Hood and crew are foraging the forest looking for people to rob (only rich people, so they can give to the poor, you understand, and no weapons allowed), they come across Much the Miller’s son, enthusiastically portrayed by Candida Mosoma, who so impresses the butch boys with his ability to defend himself (and his donkey) that they invite him to join their merry little band.
Keeping the storyline together is the marvellous Kate Normington as Silly Sylviana, the Spirit of the Forest. Amusing, clumsy, kind, caring and just a little bit bossy when she needs to be, Sylviana lets us know what’s what, who’s who, and pretty much makes sure that everything in her Forest is running according to plan. If that plan fails, she has a firm Plan B as part of a girl band with Pretorius and Mosoma – they’re a helluva of a team, and boy, can they belt out a tune!
This panto doesn’t let up for a minute, moving along at a cracking pace. It’s vibrant, it’s glitzy, it’s dynamic and it’s 100% on trend politically and musically, with a nod being given to most of the current fads doing the rounds – as one has come to expect. Honeyman and Jay once again prove they’re a formidable team and watching their cast being put through their paces only goes to show that they don’t make their choices lightly. Davel has all that’s required of a panto leading man: his almost effortless delivery, paired with a slightly quirky, comical manner, not to mention the voice and the moves to go with it all ensure he’ll be a hit as Robin. Desmond Dube, Phumi Mncayi and Bongi Mthombeni are all pure gold in their roles, elevating the level of humour here to something of an entirely superior nature.
The ensemble of this production is a troupe of seasoned performers, and it shows. They’re polished and peppy; smart and sassy. The energy flows easily, and one can’t help but get caught up in the rhythm of it all.
Mention must be made of Musical Director, Rowan Bakker – you’ll notice (because of course, you’re going to see the show) that there are a lot more musical numbers in this panto than in previous ones. So it goes without saying that the musical director had a hand in all the extra arrangements, and is a lot busier than he’d usually be! He’s done a sterling job. The band’s contribution to the superb nature of this show is unquestionable.
I also need to comment on the incredible sets and the absolutely magical use of lighting. The sets themselves are spectacular, but Graham McLusky has created pure enchantment in some of the scenes, which transport the audience into a true fairy-tale land. It’s quite captivating.
I highly recommend this year’s Pantomime. It’s first-rate entertainment and escapism. Book your tickets, go along and just lose yourself in it for a little while. That’s what it’s all about. They don’t call it magic for nothing!