The pantomime season is finally here and Janice Honeyman’s “Cinderella” is ready to dazzle, following a one-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This classical play is packed with an abundance of comedy, stunning spectacle, hundreds of beautiful costumes and, of course, the legendary panto moment – when Cinderella is transformed from rags to riches, and whisked off to the ball, with the help of a little dusting of fairy godmother magic.
Written and directed by Janice Honeyman, the show promises to be more spectacular than ever.
Award-winning creative director Andrew Timm joins the team for the first time as a production designer.
Timm will transform the stage into a high-tech, 21st-century riot of innovative and spectacular special effects; combining live performance with projections and 3D graphics, on more than 500 LED screens, and bringing in hologram effects, giant props, magic techniques, and pyrotechnics, to surprise and delight audiences of all ages.
He said: “With specially created animated content, we will transport the audience from the interior of a lavish castle, lit by hundreds of burning torches and candles, to the depths of a dark and foreboding forest, complete with the glowing eyes of unknown creatures blinking in the darkness.
“The set virtually becomes another character in the show, because it can and will have a life of its own. The possibilities are endless,” said Timm.
Echoing Timm’s sentiments, Honeyman shared: “It’s going to be such a jol working closely with Andrew Timm this year.
“Everything will be geared to retain the best of what has made our pantos so popular in the past, the audience involvement, traditions of the genre, my sly but purposeful double entendres, the unwrapping of the fairy tale itself through good and evil – but now adding the best of what technology and visual effects can offer, to take the panto into the future.”
This year’s show stars thespians Desmond Dube and Ben Voss, as the hilarious ugly sisters.
Dube says he is thrilled to make his debut as the ugly sister in the pantomime.
“I've never been an ugly big sister before. And I struggle to be ugly,” he laughed.
“It's one of those rare roles where you have to be so nasty, because the ugly sisters are quite nasty to Cinderella. I just want to make people happy and laugh.
“So it will be interesting to see Ben and I going in that direction. We're really having fun with it now and we hope that the kids are going to like us,” Dube added.
The comedian added: “I'm looking forward to seeing families coming into the theatre, laughing together, crying together, singing together. We haven't seen that in a long time.
“With a panto, we search for current events and find ways of incorporating them into the beautiful fairytale, without making people remember the pandemic and all the other political stuff that's been happening. And we deliver these in a funniest and laughable way,” said Dube.
Like many performers around the country, Dube started his acting journey on stage, in his home town of Kimberly.
“So, one night, my mother had to go to a Mahotella Queens concert. And there was no one to babysit me ... so she was forced to take me with,” he recalled.
“What was very interesting with the Mahotella Queens concerts was that they used to do a lot of costume changes. And I remember, right there and then, I was like: ‘Oh my God, this is going to be my life. I must have been around seven years old at the time.
“After that show, all I wanted was to be on stage ... Whether it was at a school or church plays (what used to be called sketches), I was there,” he recalled.
At age 17, Dube packed his bags and moved to Johannesburg to pursue his dream. For two-and-half-years, he was living in the streets of Joburg – homeless – a part of his life only recently shared on social media.
“I was very reluctant to tell people that story. Only a few people know that I used to be a street kid.”
Dube says it was renowned motivational speaker David Molapo who encouraged him to share his story.
"He (Molapo) said to me ‘if you don't tell your story, you are being selfish because there's probably someone who's in the exact position you were in a few years ago. And they don't see that things will get better.
“That's why I decided to share that story ... It was a moment of remembering that I've had some Christmases on the streets of Johannesburg. But there's always a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dube.
Cinderella will grace the Nelson Mandela Theatre stage, at Johannesburg Theatre, from November 7 until December 24.
Tickets for “Cinderella” are available at Webtickets for R240.