BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN’S award-winning theatre company, KickstArt, headed by Greg King and Steven Stead, is to tour another musical to Cape Town – this time the team’s excellent production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, staged to great success at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in 2016.
The musical, following the trials and adventures of a collection of fairytale characters – including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Red Riding Hood – is scheduled to run at Toerien’s Theatre On The Bay from January 25 to March 2 next year.
Nothing has been confirmed about a possible Johannesburg season.
The clever production, which chronicles the fairytale characters going into the deep, dark woods on separate quests, then crossing paths and intersecting with sometimes amusing, sometimes alarming results, is directed by Stead and designed by King.
Scheduled to star in Cape Town as the conniving witch who sets the adventure on its course – a character played in Rob Marshall’s 2014 film version by Meryl Streep, who was Oscar-nominated for her performance – is Kate Normington. The original Durban production, also directed by Stead, starred Lisa Bobbert.
The versatile Normington’s many stage credits include winning national awards for her role in Nunsense, and understudying and performing the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End in 1995.
KickstArt, formed in 2000, has previously staged its award-winning Sweeney Todd, also a Sondheim musical, for Toerien, while other national touring successes from the acclaimed theatre company have included Shrek the Musical, Cabaret, Little Shop of Horrors, Twitch, Puss in Boots, Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, Red and Wit.
The touring production of Into the Woods will also feature Haylea Heyns (Baroness Schraeder in the recent international tour of The Sound of Music), Graeme Wicks (Pinocchio in Shrek the Musical and recently seen in Avenue Q in Gauteng) and the wonderful Jessica Sole (Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical), all of whom featured in the original Durban production.
Other cast members are Earl Gregory (Puss in Boots, Joseph), Zak Hendricks (the deranged dentist in Little Shop of Horrors), Michael Richards (Red), Anne Marie Clulow (Beauty and the Beast), Ashleigh Harvey (Avenue Q, Funny Girl), Diane Simpson, Nathan Kruger, LJ Nielson, Schoeman Smit, Sarah Richard and Megan Rigby.
In my review of the original Durban production, staged in 2016, when I was still arts editor of The Mercury newspaper, I wrote: “Anyone who may still have any doubts that Durban’s KickstArt theatre company deserves the many awards it takes in year after year simply has to be pointed towards its latest stage work to see why it is in a class of its own.
“The truly dazzling production of Stephen Sondheim’s wise, warm, wacky and witty Into the Woods is a triumph!”
Kickstart uses this review summary on its website.
Also note that Kate Normington is among the cast of another Pieter Toerien production, the South African premiere of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
Performances have been scheduled for September 22 to November 3 at Cape Town’s Theatre On The Bay (ticket prices range from R140 to R240) and November 7 to December 2 at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre (ticket prices range from R100 to R240). Booking is at Computicket outlets.
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is an Olivier Award and Tony Award-winning best play by Simon Stephens, based on a 2003 novel of the same name by Mark Haddon.
The South African production is directed by Paul Warwick-Griffin and with scenic and costume design by Tina Driedijk, the production also features Kai Brummer, Ashley Dowds, Jenny Stead, Lesoko Seabe, Liz Szymczak, Dylan Edy, Nicholas Ellenbogen, Genna Galloway and Clayton Evertson.
The story takes place around April 1998. The biggest part of the story takes place in Swindon, other parts take place in London and between London and Swindon.
The play revolves around a mystery surrounding the death of a neighbour’s dog (Wellington) that is investigated by 15-year-old Christopher Boone, and his relationships with his parents and school mentor.