BY BILLY SUTER
A FEAST of new stage productions is planned for Johannesburg in coming weeks, among them a colourful and modestly scaled variation of the lavish musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and another customarily large-scaled annual Janice Honeyman panto – this year, Jack and the Beanstalk.
The Snow Goose, which has been touring countrywide for years and was twice staged at the Hilton Arts Festival, is also being presented in the Gauteng capital, along with a critically acclaimed drama titled Gertrude Stein and a Companion. Also a drawcard is Peter Pan on Ice, headed for Montecasino’s Teatro.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr is currently in previews, opens officially on November 10, then runs until December 22. Catch it at Peoples Theatre at the Joburg Theatre complex at the corner of Loveday and Hoofd Streets in Braamfontein.
A fantastic musical adventure about a flying car that also takes to the sea, the show is based on the hit movie that starred Dick van Dyke. Based on the beloved film version of Ian Fleming’s children’s book, it features a catchy score by the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book).
An eccentric inventor, Caractacus Potts. sets about restoring an old race car from a scrap heap with the help of his children, Jeremy and Jemima. They soon discover the car has magical properties, including the ability to float and take flight.
Trouble occurs when the evil Baron Bomburst desires the magic car for himself. The family joins forces with Truly Scrumptious and batty Grandpa Potts to outwit the dastardly Baron and Baroness and their villainous henchman, the Child Catcher.
Directed by Jill Girard and Keith Smith, the show has musical direction by Coenraad Rall, musical staging by Sandy (Dyer) Richardson, set and lighting design by Grant Knottenbelt and costumes by Merry Whillier and Sean McGrath.
The cast includes newcomer Mondé Sibisi, Caroline Borole, Luciano Zuppa, Matthew Otto, Joelle Rochecouste and Raymond Skinner.
Performance times are Mondays to Friday at 9am and 11am, Saturdays at 10.30am and 2.30pm, as well as all Sundays and public holidays.
Ticket prices are R140 (R100 for members of the Peoples Theatre Kids Club).To book tickets call Sean or Beth on (011) 403 1563 / 2340. For more information visit www.peoplestheatre.co.za
Jack and the Beanstalk, another big-budget Janice Honeyman panto, produced by the Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay, has its official opening at the large Mandela Theatre, at the Joburg Theatre complex, on Sunday, November 3. It runs until December 22.
The colourful romp, laden with grand sets, zany costumes, corny cracks, song and dance, has comedian Casper de Vries as the villain, in his panto debut; while Durban songstress Lelo Ramasimong, who won a Naledi Award for her role in The Color Purple, is the fairy godmother. Zolani Shangase also stars, as “Jack the Joller”.
Performances are at various times from Wednesdays to Sundays and tickets range in price from R275 to R395.
The Snow Goose opened on October 20 and is running at Pieter Toerien’s Studio Theatre, Montecasino, until November 24.
The production, which was nominated for two Fleur du Cap and three Naledi theatre awards, is directed by Jenine Collocott (Sunday Morning, Dirt and High Diving) and stars James Cairns (El Blanco, The Three Little Pigs, Dirt) and Taryn Bennett (Sie Weiss Alles, Kaput, Frogs).
Presented by Contagious Theatre, the work has delighted audiences across the country. It is a sensitive, evocative depiction of Paul Gallico’s classic tale of a lonely recluse and a young girl, and the surprising friendship that blossoms between them as they nurse a wild goose back to health.
Performances are scheduled for Wednesdays to Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets range in price from R130 to R180 and are available at Computicket or fhe Pieter Toerien Box Office at (011) 511 1818.
I have been hearing great things about the production of Gertrude Stein and a Companion, at Daphne Kuhn’s Auto & General Theatre on the Square in Johannesburg. Directed by Christopher Weare, it opened on October 20 and runs until November 16.
Starring Shirley Johnston as Stein and Lynita Crofford as Alice, this play by Win Wells won an award at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.
It is said to be an evocative and witty drama that explores the extraordinary relationship between American modernist author and poet Gertrude Stein and lifelong partner Alice B Toklas. They rejected the conservative values of middle-class America in the early 1900s and found refuge in the bohemian decadence of Paris… and in each other.
Stein drew artistic genius to her salon like a magnet, numbering among her close friends Hemingway, Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Klee and Scott Fitzgerald among other artists, writers and poets.
They regularly gathered at what became known as the ‘Mecca for the modern-minded’, where they inspired each other to create art, drank often, fought often, fell in and out of love… and occasionally indulged in Alice’s hash brownies.
Performances are at 8.15pm Tuesday to Friday, with 6pm and 8.15pm shows on Saturdays. Tickets cost R150 and booking is at Computicket outlets.
The world’s premier theatrical ice skating company, The Imperial Ice Stars, returns to Johannesburg’s Teatro Theatre at Montecasino, from December 6 to January 11, with a spectacular new show, Peter Pan on Ice
Peter Pan on Ice offers a journey to Neverland laden with magic and make-believe, showcasing 23 former World, European and National Championship-level skaters. Collectively, the entire cast holds more than 250 competition medals and will bring their athletic and artistic talents to retell J M Barrie’s well-loved story.
The show will have Johannesburg performances at 7.30pm every Tuesday to Friday, at 3pm and 7.30pm on Saturdays, and 2pm and 5.30pm on Sundays. Tickets range in price from R150 to R475, and booking is at Computicket.