Holiday song and dance

2011-11-04 10:27

Question: what do you call it when there’s a pair of blokes frolicking on stage in frocks, a princess in distress, a generous handful of fairy dust, a prince with a plan, over-the-top costumes and sets, and a whole lot of risqué jokes?

The yearly pantomime, of course, which signals the official start of the silly season in Joburg every year.

This year, writer and director Janice Honeyman has reworked the best of the bunch – Cinderella. It is the pantomime I remember best from my childhood, which is perhaps why my expectations were a little disappointed.

It’s got some great bits, it’s just a little uneven here and there – which could perhaps be put down to opening-night jitters.

The stars of this show, though, are Robert Whitehead as Fanny Flatulina and Tobie Cronje as Flossie Flemerina, the truly ugly sisters.

The pair is hilariously hideous – bouncing laughs off each other and cavorting around the stage with unbridled energy.

They must be exhausted by the end of the performance, and spare a thought for them and the rest of the cast on weekends when they do five shows – three on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Anna-Mart van der Merwe joins the illustrious list of actors who have gone silly for panto this year with her turn as the fairy godmother.

The well-known Afrikaans actress seemed a little nervous at the start but she soon found her groove, and by the time she led the audience in the traditional bum-slapping panto song, she was getting as many laughs as the two dames.

Taking the role of Cinderella is Carmen Pretorius, who starred in South Africa’s stage version of High School Musical. Since then she’s been forging a place for herself in the musical theatre world.

Being the princess in the panto is a role that can be a little limp. But Pretorius makes the most of it and uses her spectacular set of pipes to soar through her songs.

Idols contestant Bongi Mthombeni is Prince Charming and he too gets to show off his vocal prowess. Jaco van Rensburg as Dandini deserves a mention for his full-of-beans, funny performance.

And taking on the role of Buttons, Cinderella’s best friend, is panto stalwart Sibu Radebe, one of my favourite musical theatre performers.

This year’s panto has its usual array of pop-up surprises for the children (obviously I can’t tell you what they are – it’ll ruin the surprise), and while the adults might be less than impressed, the little would-be princes and princesses in the audience were awestruck by it all.

» Cinderella runs at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein until December 30.

To book call the theatre’s ticket line on 0861?670 670 or visit Joburgtheatre.co.za

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