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JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
DIRECTOR/WRITER: Janice Honeyman
CAST: Tobie Cronjé, Desmond Dube, Bongi Mthombeni, Carly Graeme, Nandi Nyembe, David Clatworthy, Louise Saint-Claire and ensemble
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Clinton Zerf
CHOREOGRAPHER: Timothy Le Roux
VENUE: The Mandela at the Joburg Theatre
Until: December 30
RATINg: 4 stars
Diane de Beer
It’s not about good or bad any longer. When you have 25 pantos in your glittering goody bag, it’s much more about the particular extravaganza, than if you pull it off.
Ms Panto herself, Janice Honeyman, has matured with her experience and at this stage she’s willing to go anywhere. She has been pushing the South African angle for a while now and this time, she has let her dreadlocks down and gone all the way. To the point where some in the audience might not get all the jokes because of the language issues, but if you then hit them with Desmond Dube as the dame, Dame Dudu Dludlu nogal, it is a spectacular home run.
He plays his woman strong, flashes that fantastic smile and charms the audience with chutzpah.
Introduce panto pushover Tobie Cronjé to the mix in three thrilling guises and you’re sprinting ahead.
Their approach is panto perfect as they deliver their lines deliciously, brilliantly their songs and do exactly what they wish with a willing audience.
“I feel like 1Time – I can’t fly at all,” whines a hysterically ditzy Fairy Felma-Fabbadabba-dozy (Saint-Claire) as she expresses her inability to master any of the expected magic (as well as Honeyman’s ability to introduce the news flash). While Cronjé’s Henry Hideosa shows his flair for local cuisine by adding Parktown prawn crackling to his monstrous mix.
With Dirty Dancing also on circuit and Honeyman’s forthcoming Starlight Express adding to the audience and advertising competition, Honeyman adds in local sounds and dance steps, as well as an additional secret weapon in the form of last year's Prince Charming as the giant killer and special talent.
Bongi Mthombeni shows he’s rough and tough enough to lay claim to Carly Graeme’s rebellious Raspberry Rose.
Stealing the style award in her local ensemble, Nandi Nyembe’s Mrs Skwashie Mangowashie and David Clatworthy’s kortbroek Dom-Dik Canari (her sidekick) bolster the fun and games, while the rest of the cast bring energy and enthusiasm to a panto that whizzes by swiftly and smartly.
As always, the dialogue keeps you on your toes while the young are entertained by the over-the-top antics of the bullies and the sweet surprises that keep coming.
How Honeyman hits all the hot spots year after year is astonishing but she does. It’s part of her particular panto pleasure to have something new up her sleeve and this year there’s lift-off again – twice.
But we won’t spoil the surprise. It’s part of the end-of-year lucky packet that keeps on giving.
So breathe easily, they’ve done it again and if sometimes the night has felt just that tad too long, there’s a cracking pace to this year’s panto that keeps everything snappy and sharp.
More than anything, it’s a proudly South African panto as it pushes us into a space we want to be and which we proudly claim as our own.