BY BILLY SUTER
PANTOMIMES, both large-scale and also naughty and on a shoestring budget, as well as a Playhouse Company revival of a show featuring popular Christmas songs, are December holiday stage highlights in Durban this year.
In Johannesburg, Janice Honeyman’s annual panto crowd-puller is back. This time she has written and directs Pinocchio, featuring Kanye Nokwe, Andre Schwartz and Tobie Cronje among the cast. It runs at the Joburg Theatre from November 22 to December 30.
Also in Johannesburg, at Gold Reef City’s Lyric Theatre until December 10, is the Tony-nominated musical, Rock of Ages. Featuring 28 nostalgic rock anthems including the music of Pat Benatar, Styx, Twisted Sister, Poison, Foreigner and Reo Speedwagon, the show tells a love story while paying homage to the big rock concerts of the ’80s. The cast includes Andrew Webster.
Cape Town’s big festive season draw is Evita, the grand touring Rice-Lloyd Webber musical with Emma Kingston and Jonathan Roxmouth. It slots in at the Artscape theatre after a hit season in Johannesburg. It will be in Cape Town from December 2 to January 7.
But back to Durban… the award-winning KickstArt theatre company’s annual panto, Sinbad the Sailor, written and directed by Steven Stead, will be staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from December 1 to January 7. Performances are scheduled for 2.30pm Tuesdays to Sundays, and 7pm on Fridays. There will be no performances on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.
Lyle Buxton stars as the swashbuckling hero in a fun show, with all the traditional panto elements. It also features Bryan Hiles, Belinda Henwood, Darren King and Marion Loudon.
Durban’s 21st shoestring panto, Dracula, starring panto stalwart Anthony Stonier in the name role, has been running since November 14. Strictly for adults, it runs until December 30 in an intimate setting at On Stage@Altitude, at Durban’s intimate Club Altitude in Silver Avenue, Stamford Hill.
The five-member cast includes another Durban panto regular, Thomie Holtzhausen, who also owns the venue, has devised and scripted Dracula, and directs and will also appear in the show.
The cast is completed by Kerry-Lee McKibbin, Jaziel Vaugh’hann and Mpilo Nzimande, all of whom, with Holtzhausen, appeared in Once Upon a Fairy: NOT the Adult Panto, the first mini pantomime at this venue, staged last year.
The Playhouse Company, which last year presented an excellent production of The Sound of Music, has as its 2017 year-end draw, A Christmas Celebration, a revival of a show directed by Ralph Lawson. It is scheduled for the Playhouse Opera theatre for a short run from December 22 to 24.
A mix of festive music and dance, it will feature Tim Moloi, Dr Tumi, Khanyo Maphumulo, The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, The Playhouse Dance Residency and The Playhouse Chorale.
Also to be seen in Durban over the holiday period is the showband entertainment Knowing Me, Knowing You – a lively salute to the power couples of rock and pop. It’s at the new Rockwood Theatre (formerly Krakatoa) at Sibaya Casino, near Umhlanga, until January 28.
Fun for the young in Durban is offered in Captain Redbeard and Jeff’s Great Christmas Adventure, a revival of the show that Aaron MciIlroy and Patrick Kenny devised, with a young cast, for a run in Durban North over the 2016 festive season. It will now be staged at Durban’s Olive Tree Church in Florida Road, Morningside, from December 7 to 16.
The show will see funnyman McIlroy and actor Kenny – also the co-writer and director of McIlroy’s award-winning Comedy Masterclass – in Santa’s returns department, where all “leftovers” and unwanted gifts land up.
Opera lovers in Durban might want to book for Italian Opera Evening, at the Playhouse Drama theatre at 6.30pm on December 2. Three of South Africa`s most celebrated voices (the Playhouse fails to name them) will be accompanied by renowned pianist Eugene Joubert .
Likely to prove a good bet is Our Story Magic, at the Playhouse’s Grand Foyer from November 29 to December 10.
The Playhouse Company’s Actors Studio and Playhouse Dance Residency are all set to take a magical journey into the wonderful world of storytelling, under the direction of Warona Seane.
Our Story Magic is described as a collection of stories set in an African mystical garden. Using dance, song and storytelling, the audience will experience a retelling of some of Gcina Mhlophe’s tales from her African Folk Stories.
Performances for schools take place at 10am and noon from November 10 to December. Pupils pay R30, while teachers pay R50 per ticket. For school bookings phone (031) 369 9407.
Public performances are at 2.30pm until December 10. On December 9, there is an additional show at noon. Tickets cost R30 (R50 for adults). Book at Computicket.
Comedy fans are also being catered for at the Playhouse this festive season – at 8pm on December 8, award-winning comedian, Richelieu Beaunoir, will stage his solo show, Coloured In.
Beaunoir says that in a world where things can easily look dull and grey, Coloured In is a physical representation of the way he chooses to keep his world bold, bright and colourful.