No festive season is complete without a pantomime to wrap things up. And, this year, the doyenne of pantos, Janice Honeyman, has bagged the theatre industry’s crème de la crème for “Peter Pan” at the Joburg Theatre.
If you have attended a pantomime in the past, you know that it is an engaging, fun family-friendly romp that’s accompanied by a wonderful selection of songs.
And the good versus evil trope is present throughout the show.
As for the principal cast, Honeyman, wearing the hat of writer and director, has Sandi Dlangalala playing Peter Pan, Ben Voss as Captain Hook, Michael Richard as Captain Hook’s sidekick, Smee, Kiruna-Lind Devar as Wendy, David Arnold Johnson as Dame Clementina Coconut and newcomer Virtuous Kandemiri as Tinkerbell.
Interestingly, this is Dlangalala’s first time in a Honeyman pantomime and it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
He explained: “I auditioned for the panto. And it is quite an intense process, as is any other kind of musical theatre. You have got three phases of the audition.
“You have got your dance core, then the next round is your singing audition and then, from that process, they choose who goes into the last round, which is reading for the characters with the creative team, and they make you try different characters to see how you interpret them.”
“I had auditioned for four previous ones. And I didn’t make the cut. So I decided to keep trying. And making it this year … when I went through for the audition, I didn’t tell myself I was going in for Peter Pan, I’m going for that role, I just wanted to be in it.”
There are no small parts in the panto so his thought process on simply landing a part was understandable.
Fate favoured him this time around. And helming the panto is something he doesn’t take lightly.
“Having started rehearsals and now getting closer to the opening, I’m always reminding myself of the magnitude of the responsibility but, at the same time, also remembering to enjoy it and have fun,” he said.
At the moment, they are in the tech week stage, which he describes as “the most intense”.
“‘Peter Pan’ is such a technical show and we are working out the flying and rigging stuff. But the supporting cast is amazing. Working with veteran actors like Michael Richard and Ben Voss.
“And it’s wonderful to watch two very experienced actors do their thing. I feel like I’m privileged to work alongside them.”
Another joy for Dlangalala is getting to, once again, work with his bestie, Devas.
“Kiruna, who plays Wendy, is one of my closest friends. This is the fifth or fourth show we are doing together but it is always a joy to work alongside Kiruna.
“To be working with one of your best friends is just a gift. And we are always telling each other how happy we are that we get to do this together and share the stage again. She’s such a fierce talent and she’s one of the country’s finest.”
He also sang the praises of the newcomers in the panto and while the names of some of them escaped him, he waxed lyrically about their talent.
On working with Honeyman, he said: “I worked with her on a musical last year, which did very well. To work with Janice is such a privilege and I am so glad that I have gotten the opportunity.
“For someone who has decades and decades of directing experience to be guiding you through the process is invaluable.
“And she understands panto as she’s been doing it for 32 years apart from her other work, she’s got such a wonderful understanding of making it easy for us to grasp. She’s just a wonderful, wonderful, teacher.”
As for what the audience can look forward to, he said: “They can expect a magical experience and fun and adventure. It’s gotten back to classic panto storytelling with good versus evil, with immense adventures in between.”
The show is on at The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre from November 3 to December 24.
Tickets are on sale through www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling 0861 670 670. Preview prices start at R130, regular prices start at R190. Student and pensioner prices are available.
And if festive productions are what whet your appetite, then the Peoples Theatre is staging “Shrek Jr”, based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film.
It will be staged from Tuesday, November 7 until Sunday, December 24.
The rendition of “Shrek” has been adapted specially for younger audiences.
As the fable goes, in a faraway kingdom the green ogre, Shrek, finds his swamp invaded by banished fairytale misfit runaways who've been cast off by Lord Farquaad, a tiny terror with big ambitions.
When Shrek sets off with a wise-cracking donkey to confront Farquaad, he's handed a task: if he rescues feisty Princess Fiona from the Dragon-guarded tower, his swamp will be returned to him, but like any fairy tale, it wouldn't be complete without unexpected twists and turns along the way.
Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, “Shrek JR” is an irreverently fun show for the whole family, with imaginative sets and costumes.
The show is produced and directed by Jill Girard and Keith Smith.
Where: Peoples Theatre.
When: From November 7 until December 24. Show times are at 9am and 11am on Tuesdays to Fridays. On the weekends and school holidays, it’s at 10.30am and 2.20pm.
Tickets: Cost R165 per person and R130 if you a member of the Peoples Theatre Kids Club. R140 for accompanying members. Call 011 877 6841 or email [email protected] for bookings or enquiries.