It’s that time of the year again when we start talking panto and this year, it’s Jack and the Beanstalk which opens at The Mandela at Joburg Theatre on October 31 and runs until December 30.

Hot news is that audience favourite Tobie Cronje is back as the evil Henry Hideosa, the Giant’s assistant, and the delightful Desmond Dube dons the usual over-the-top gowns as Dame Dora Dimpledumpling. With this comic duo, we’re off to a crackling start.

And to top that, Gauteng’s favourite stage comedienne, actress Louise Saint-Claire is taking on this year’s fairy, Fenella Fynbos. For panto regulars who might not know this fantastic actress, two years back, she did a fun send-up in the panto of Helen Zille.

Remember last year’s charming Prince Charming? Well he’s back. Bongi Mthomebi (pictured with Tobie Cronje) was such a hit last year that he returns as this year’s hero. He first hit the headlines as one of the Top 10 finalists on the sixth season of the M-Net reality competition Idols, in 2010.

He will be losing his heart to Carly Graeme who will be playing Raspberry Rose. She was last seen as the lead in The Boys in the Photograph.

Another star who will get giggles going in a comic role of Mayoress Fumblebum is Nandi Nyembe, who is best known for her role as Nandi Sibiya on the TV soccer drama Zone 14 and for her role as Sister Lizzie on the SABC1 drama series Soul City.

The full company of the panto also includes Shaun Brian Murphy, Nicol Sheraton, Clint Lesch, Hector Leigh, Weslee Swain Lauder, Emil E Haarhoff, Ziyanda Yako, Dionne Song, Tsholofelo Monedi, Noni Mkhonto, Tanielle Powell and Diani Gernandt.

More than 30 000 tickets for Jack and the Beanstalk have already been sold. So book now before it’s too late. It’s the ultimate Christmas treat and family entertainment.

•Tickets for preview performances range from R140 to R240 and for all other performances from R190 to R290: on sale now by visiting, or by calling their ticketing line: 0861 670 670. For discounted rates for groups of 10 or more, call 011 877 6853/4.