Jack and the Beanstalk is Janice Honeyman’s 26th pantomime and for young Timothy LeRoux, the 10th year he is there as her assistant. It’s almost impossible to contemplate how director/writer Honeyman comes up with a fresh and innovative festive pantomime every year. But she does, her audiences know she will deliver and this is arguably the one fail-safe production of the tricky Gauteng theatre season. Again she’s gathered the troops led by panto prince Tobie Cronje as the giant’s evil sidekick, as well as funnyman Desmond Dube as the Dame. Star comic Louise Saint-Claire is this year’s fairy, Felma-Fabbadabba-dozy with the emphasis on dozy, while Nandi Nyembe, (Zone 14, Soul Sister) and David Clatworthy add extra clout. The romantic leads return last year’s Prince Charming Bongi Mthombeni as Jack with Carly Graeme’s Raspberry Rose catching the young man’s eye. DIANE DE BEER chats to one of this year’s panto top dogs...
Anyone who saw Desmond Dube years ago having great fun in a Janice Honeyman pantomime will understand why he’s back.
“The stage is my real home,” he says wistfully like someone who doesn’t get to visit enough.
But for audiences, Honeyman’s casting of Dube as this year’s Dame is a gift. As Dame Dudu Dludlu, he gets to wear the dresses and the shoes and it pushes him off that comfy chair where he is totally au fait with everything he does.
He also loves the fact that he can go as big as it gets and the audience will be ready to have a party.
“My only challenge is living up to Tobie’s (Cronje) standards,” says Dube, who in his first panto was cast as Cronje’s sidekick.
“He’s my hero,” says Dube as he raves about Cronje’s sense of timing and how he is widely regarded as the local panto prince. But watching him going through his panto paces for just a moment, there’s no chance that he’s not up to the challenge.
He is having fun getting to know the p’s and q’s again and knows the excitement of a live audience is going to be fun and increase the adrenalin.
Dube might be more familiar during these past few years as an advertising face but he also does many movies and some television.
He was part of the extraordinary Hotel Rwanda film and starred in The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
At the moment, it’s the Jacks that keep him busy.
Not only is he one of the starring lights in Jack and the Beanstalk, he also presents Jack Up Your Shack on e.tv which in moments changes the lives of people living in township homes.
“It’s really life-changing,” he says. “It also keeps me grounded and takes me back to where I come from.”
But if he really had a choice of what he likes to do most, it would be theatre. “I would love to tour with a theatre show,” he says.
He loves being around actors and becoming part of an almost instant family. “It’s wonderful to get to know all these spirits,” he says, pointing towards the rest of the cast. He says he is married to a beautiful but serious woman, Tlotliso, who allows him to be the clown in the family.
“It’s great that our two worlds merge,” he says, knowing that it’s her gravitas that allows him the freedom to be playful.
He’s also excited about his next project which is an Anant Singh movie. “I can’t talk about it yet,” he says, “but it is in the pipeline.”
But first he has to get to grips with the dame in Desmond, and I know he’ll have us in stitches during the panto’s festive run.