HUMOUR WIZ: Jacobus van Heerden as Moffie the Lion. Photo: Val Adamson

A MAN of many talents – and one who wears many hats in the industry – popular theatre practitioner Jacobus van Heerden is performing in his first adult pantomime this year and is a great hit with audiences.

Van Heerden plays Moffie the Lion in The Wizard of Oz, which is running at the Suncoast Sunzone until January 13, and he will have you in stitches.

Tonight caught up with the gifted young man to chat about his adult pantomime experience, and more.

He credits much of his success in The Wizard of Oz to working with the show’s director, Darren King.

“The success of my character owes a lot to his hilarious writing. He understands that if you try to please everybody, you please nobody. He has nailed the adult panto genre and that is why we’ve had such great houses.”

And what has he enjoyed most about playing Moffie the Lion over the past few weeks?

“I’ve always wanted to be a moffie… (Laughs) “Hearing an audience laugh is always rewarding. It means the effort I put in has paid off.

“As a straight man playing a gay character, it’s rewarding to hear that gay people enjoy my performance, although it probably has something to do with the hot pants and crop top I wear,” he jokes, adding “I’d like to think there’s integrity in the way I have played the part.”

The pantomime has ruffled a few feathers in terms of the writing.

“Some people think our script is too risqué but it is an adult panto. Would you go to a rugby match and complain that it was too rough?

“A lot of comedy is watered down to please conservative family audiences. The adult panto is popular because it doesn’t do this and I think the large majority of our audiences leave the show feeling great.

“The ego needs conflict, and there will always be pseudo intellectuals who look down on the adult panto because it gives them a false sense of being somehow above it. Due to their habitual cynicism, these types rarely experience the joy of communal laughter,” he said.

Clearly someone who is passionate about the arts, we asked Van Heerden where it all began.

“My mother is an artist and always encouraged my creative endeavours. In primary school I won the art prize and even after high school I considered becoming a painter. Two dramatic productions pulled me towards drama – an outdoor performance by Ellis Pearson and Bheki Mkhwane and the physical theatre piece The Well Being by Lionel Newton and Andrew Buckland.”

Dabbling in so many areas of the arts – from writer, producer, actor and director to musician – Van Heerden explained why he liked it this way.

“Acting is the easiest and most immediately enjoyable, but every aspect is rewarding. I’ve always thrown myself at any creative challenge, whether it be writing, playing guitar or perfecting a character.

“I’m just inclined to try my hand at a variety of things.”

• Watch Van Heerden in The Wizard of Oz (PG16) Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, and Sundays at 2pm at Suncoast Sunzone. Doors open 90 minutes before the show for diners. Drinks at the bar. Tickets are R110 to R130 and seating is at tables of eight.