……BY BILLY SUTER …..
HEY, boys and girls… it’s pantomime time again in Gauteng! Oh, yes it is – and this year there are two productions being staged in Johannesburg, both of which have some Durban connection.
Two performers with Durban links – Brenda Radloff and Ben Voss – are among principal players in the latest pantomime written and directed by stalwart Janice Honeyman. Running until December 24 at the Joburg Theatre in Johannesburg, it is The Adventures of Pantoland and forms part of the Joburg Theatre’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
It is a frenetic, kaleidoscopic explosion of a show in which digital animated backdrops hog the limelight as countless characters from various pantos cross paths. Characters from Aladdin, Snow White, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and Jack and the Beanstalk, along with several others, pop up in a convoluted, song-heavy tale which, if short on soul and lacking in character definition and audience involvement, has colourful moments.
It is a sometimes confusing tale of good characters uniting to visit different fantasy and faraway lands in a bid to retrieve the Golden Goblet of Goodness, stolen by a band of baddies headed by Wicked Queen Evilina.
Brenda Radloff, an alumnus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal drama department, is great fun as the stomping Evilina, leader of the nasties, a character marking her first panto … and her first villain role. She told me she was loving the experience.
Radloff was a queen of the stage, and particularly musical theatre, in Durban in the 1980s and 1990s – appearing as the lead in countless top productions, including such Durban Playhouse successes as Evita and Oliver!.
Durban funnyman Ben Voss, who is no stranger to Honeyman pantos in Gauteng, is back again this year after playing Evil Queen Hildagona in 2018’s Snow White and one of the Ugly Sisters in last year’s Cinderella. In Adventures in Pantoland he is a crowd-pleaser as The Abominable Abanazar (of Aladdin fame).
Executive produced by Bernard Jay, this year’s panto also stars Ilse Klink, Carmen Pretorius, Dylan du Plessis, David Arnold Johnson, Didintle Khunou, Hlengiwe Lushaba Madlala, Justin Swartz and Grant Towers.
Dancing, singing and playing every other role in the panto ensemble are Louise Duhain, Tarryn Heard, Elsje Lourens, Gareth Meijsen, Katlego Nche, René Setlhako, Thandaza Silwane, Jordan Soares, Logan Timbre, Kensiwe Tshabalala, Stephan van der Walt and Donovan Yaards.
Adventures in Pantoland features production design by Andrew Timm, choreography by Nicol Sheraton, musical direction by Dale-Ray Scheepers, costume co-ordination by Bronwen Lovegrove and lighting design by Johan Ferreira.
Ticket prices start from R260 and are available by visiting www.joburgtheatre.com or calling 0861 670 670.
Still talking pantos and the Durban connection…. Brenda Radloff is the mother of young Kiruna-Lind Devar, who is playing the romantic lead, Princess Marina, in another Johannesburg panto, KickstArt’s revival of its 2017 Durban hit, Sinbad the Sailor.
The show will run at Montecasino’s Teatro from November 19 until December 23, marking the first time this popular theatre has hosted a panto.
An enchanting romp for the whole family, Sinbad the Sailor is written and directed by KickstArt’s Steven Stead, designed by Greg King and choreographed by Evashnee Pillay. Tickets range in price from R150 to R275, and online booking is via Quicket.
This glossy production, laden with traditional panto ingredients and surprises, has a 16-member cast that includes newcomer Micah Stojakovic in the title role, Schoeman Smit as dilly Dame Donna Kebab, Murray Todd as Long John Slither and Samantha Peo as the imposing Morgiana the Magnificent.
The magical and larger-than-life Genie of the Seven Seas is played by Yamikani Phiri with Lelo Ramasimong as the no-nonsense Ameena Sandi Dlangalala as the deliciously vague Silly Billy Souvlaki and delightful, former Durban-based performer Mthokozisi Zulu as the trusty pirate sidekick, Mustapha Kitkat. The ensemble comprises Marang Khwene, Kutloano Rankoe, Hannah Rudnicki, Kyra Teague, Joshua Groenveld, Thokozani Jiyane, Lwazi Pinyana and Sabelo Radebe.
With colourful sets and costumes that evoke the exotic mystery and magic of the Arabian Nights, and music and dance inspired by Bollywood, this is a unique pantomime experience for the entire family.