Dwarfed production can stand tall

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TO NDR Snow White 2_CITY_E1 . FAIREST OF THEM ALL: The Dingalings leave young and old in stitches with their newest childrens theatre production, Snow White. The cast are (back from left): Henry Ramkissoon, Koobeshen Naidoo and Senzo Mthethwa; and (front) Nirvana Naidoo and Katinga Buserello.

Snow White

DIRECTOR: Kumseela Naidoo

CAST: Henry Ramkissoon, Koobeshen Naidoo, Senzo Mthethwa, Nirvana Naidoo, Katinga Buserello, Nickiel Ramkissoon and Yuvaan Naidoo

VENUE: The Catalina Theatre

UNTIL: July 19

RATING: ***

THE annual Dingalings winter school holiday children’s theatre production has opened at the Catalina Theatre.

The production is Snow White – with a Dingalings twist.

Directed by Kumseela Naidoo, Snow White features Henry Ramkissoon, Koobeshen Naidoo and Senzo Mthethwa as the hilariously funny dwarfs. Nirvana Naidoo takes on the role of the Evil Queen and Katinga Buserello plays Snow White. Young Dingalings cast members Nickiel Ramkissoon and Yuvaan Naidoo can be seen in the roles of the Huntsman and Prince Charming respectively.

Dingalings are known for their hit kids’ theatre productions like The Faraway Forest, The Peg Leg Pirate, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding Hood.

The classic tale is told against the backdrop of the Dingalings’ slapstick antics that have the audience – young and old – rolling in the aisles. That, I think, is one of the secrets to the Dingalings’ success; that their humour entertains the little ones (with loads of onstage interaction, too) and it also tickles the adult funny bone as it’s usually quite witty.

Interlaced with the storyline is some edutainment, with tips for the kids on good manners – like saying “please” and “thank you” – and good hygiene.

The dwarfs keep the laughs rolling from start to finish. The sweet Buserello is a hit yet again in her princess role. She has a great rapport with the littlies who quickly warm to her. Nirvana Naidoo epitomises wickedness in her character as the Evil Queen and Ramkissoon and Yuvaan Naidoo have done great in their roles as the Huntsman and Prince Charming.

Shortly before Tonight reviewed Friday’s show we chatted with director Kumseela Naidoo about what keeps them bringing kids’ theatre to the stage.

After nine years of doing such theatre, Naidoo said they have developed a young following and that part of this success is because the Dingalings team operate as a family.

“We are all families in Dingalings so we try to even involve our kids in as much of our work as possible, and also the spouses. Everyone assists in whatever way they can.

“In maintaining that kind of family value as well, we stay grounded.”

The bulk of the Dingalings seniors are also professional educators, which, Naidoo said, is partly what drives their passion for kids’ theatre.

“With Henry, Koobeshen, Nirvana and myself, we are all educators and I think we are educators first. We see the value of theatre and drama in kids’ development. The earlier you introduce children to theatre the better. And you actually develop a whole new theatre audience by introducing them now.

“And as for the value of theatre, I can’t even begin to expound on how amazing it is for children’s development, for thinking individuals, for stimulating them creatively. Theatre counters the ill effects of TV and also the ill effects of the younger generation who just sit passively and receive, instead of thinking (for themselves).

“Also, when we were growing up we had lots of role-play and free play outside, pretending to be fire-men and so on. We hardly have that today, largely, I think, because of the society we live in. We are so petrified that if our children are out of our sight, something’s gone amiss.

“So we don’t have that anymore and I think… this kind of magic of theatre fills that gap a little,” she said.


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