#Reviews

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.

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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

Color Purple 5

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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Come and Nosh at Nussbaums!

10413350_271248809666001_4060469510783246122_nSo as a Joburg foodie blogger who gets absolutely no opportunity to attend or blog about Kosher food – a little-known niche in Joburg’s wider foodie/blogging community, but something that I live and breathe every single day – I was pretty excited to see that local butchery, Nussbaums had invited two friends of mine, well-known foodies, Jozi Food Whore and The Food Musketeer to sample their excellent deli fare!!

I immediately contacted Nussbaums myself and asked if they actually knew that there were real, live kosher foodie bloggers (okay, at least one … me) living in their midst, and did they want to invite me over too!?!  Which led to me and the Other Half (OH) having Sunday lunch at Nussbaums today!!

For those who don’t know, Nussbaums Butchery was actually established way back in 1936. I remember when many kosher establishments had their shops set up in Doornfontein, and this was one of them. We didn’t visit the area often though, as my mom opted for phoning in her orders which would then get delivered! Moving ahead a few decades, and Nussbaums is now a bright, modern space in the heart of Glenhazel. Think small-scale Golders Green with the big mommy-cars, the problematic parking, the Friday shopping frenzy, and you’re pretty much describing what to me is … home!

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Where the magic happens!

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The guys are gathered around the grill!

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Nussbaums deck – the place to be for Sunday lunch in the sun!

OH and I arrive in the midst of Sunday lunchtime on a beautiful, hot sunny day; one of the first we’ve had at the start of our Joburg summer. It seems like everyone is making the most of being outside. We’re greeted by the very friendly Dale, who is behind the incredible publicity that Nussbaums is now recieving on social media. Being that I’m no stranger to the shop, I’m quite thrilled to get the opportunity to take pictures (without looking like too much of a weirdo), and get behind the counter too!!

The range of products is impressive, and the stock levels are currently high, due to the expectation of increased buying in the coming week or so. It’s Rosh Hashanah – The Jewish New Year – in less than 2 weeks, and everyone is anticipating the usual eating frenzy that accompanies holiday-time in most cultures. It’s a time of family, friends, get-togethers, and large meals … and a time when we give thanks for what we have, and offer up our prayers of hope for the coming year.

As Nussbaums say “We know meat”, and they certainly take that seriously! Their menu offering is based on the popular New York Deli style. We were presented with 3 of their most popular items: a Hawaiian burger, an Argentinian steak roll, and the piece de resistance, their Hot Beef on Rye!! Oh … My … Goodness!!! This is good, old-fashioned, deli food at its absolute best with no stinting on anything at all. Do your jaw exercises beforehand so you can get your mouth around the huge, generous portions! The smash burgers (because of the method used in ‘smashing’ a ball of mince down to give it its burger form) are really popular and the grill is constantly on the go, doing a steady business in takeaways.

 

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The juiciest Hawaiian Burger (that’s pineapple, not cheese!!!)

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The jam-packed New York Beef on Rye

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The Delectable Argentinian Steak Roll – you HAVE to try it!

The large staff contingent moves around both the store and outside service area like a well-oiled machine. They’re all extremely efficient, and ever so friendly, and above all, they know their stuff!

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Basically Nussbaums is doing a sterling job in keeping up with current trends both in food and on social media. Why shouldn’t our local kosher establishments be marketing themselves in the same way that other stores and restaurants do, especially when they know that what they’re offering is of equal, often better quality? It’s all about being competitive, and knowing how to participate in the playing field, and Nussbaums knows exactly what they need to do to keep themselves relevant and current. Well done and good for them!

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OH trying to get his mouth around the generous Burger!!

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The Hot Chips are perfection!

Go and visit! They’re at 53 Ridge Road, Glenhazel, and get yourself a smash burger or a beef on rye while you’re there! They’re open from 7:00 am – 20:00 pm Monday to Thursday; 6:00 am – 15:30pm on Fridays and 8.30 – 14:00 on Sundays. They’re closed on Saturdays for Shabbat (the Sabbath). Check which days they’ll be closed during the upcoming Jewish Holiday Season.

You can call them on 011 485-2303, or you can visit their comprehensive website at www.koshermeat.co.za where you can also order online and have your order delivered to you!

You don’t have to keep kosher to eat kosher … you don’t even have to be Jewish!

 

RED CHAMBER, Hyde Park – Still Awesome After All These Years

Red Chamber Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Red Chamber has almost legendary status as one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Johannesburg. From its early days, when it first opened in Rosebank in 1989, until it moved to Hyde Park Shopping Centre in 1997, and then moved to its current premises (remaining within the centre), Head Chef, Emma Chan has maintained her exceptional standard of quality, which keeps her patrons returning time and time again.

The service is impeccable, the menu vast, ensuring there’s something for every palate. The crispy Peking Duck is sublime! It’s served as a feast, fit for an army: the plate of duck, with separate plates of plum sauce, pancakes and finely cut cucumber and spring onion.

Red Chamber 1

We also had the crispy beef because it had been recommended to us by friends – an excellent recommendation, as it turned out! A tiny glitch in that we ordered a portion of steamed rice and a portion of noodles. A portion of fried rice arrived, which we happily started tucking into, but then the steamed rice also arrived. We reminded our waitress that we had ordered noodles and she returned the rice and brought the noodles. But then both bowls of rice AND the noodles appeared on our bill. However, when we pointed this out, it was rectified immediately with no problem at all.

4 glittery stars for The Red Chamber, if you’re looking for elegant, fine dining, Chinese style! You will be extremely well looked after.

 

PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

HOP ON THE BUS TO FABULOUS!

PQD DIVA's Credit Lance Peterson

Divas Candida Mosomo, Londiwe Dhlomo & Tembeka Mnguni – Photo Credit: Lance Peterson

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

DAVID DENNIS, DANIEL BUYS and PHILLIP SCHNETLER Priscilla Photo NARDUS ENGELBRECHT 156

David Dennis, Daniel Buys, Phillip Schnetler – Photo Credit: Nardus Engelbrecht

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!!

Tshepo Ncokoane in Priscilla. Credit NARDUS ENGELBRECHT 16

Tshepo Ncokoane – Photo credit: Nardus Engelbrecht

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!

HR I WILL SURVIVE, Priscilla. Credit- Nardus Engelbrecht

Photo credit: Nardus Engelbrecht

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

This musical contains some strong language and adult themes, therefore parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12

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