DIANE DE BEER reviews:
JANICE HONEYMAN’S ADVENTURES IN PANTOLAND
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JANICE HONEYMAN
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Bernard Jay
CAST: Michelle Botha, Dylan du Plessis, David Arnold Johnson, Didintle Khunou, Ilse Klink, Hlengiwe Lushaba Madlala, Carmen Pretorius, Brenda Radloff, Justin Swartz, Grant Towers, Ben Voss and the rest of the ensemble
THE BAND: Dale Ray Scheepers (musical director and arranger/keyboards), Silas Naicker (assistant musical director/ keyboard), Redgardt de Bruin (guitar) , Viwe Mkizwana (Bass), Keith Marishen (drums).
CHOREOGRAPHER: Nicol Sheraton
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Andrew Timm
COSTUME DESIGNER Bronwen Lovegrove
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Johan Ferreira
SOUND DESIGNER: Adriaan van der Walt
RESIDENT DIRECTOR: Timothy le Roux
VENUE: The Mandela at Joburg Theatre
DATES: Until December 24
There’s a reason the panto is billed as Janice Honeyman’s Adventures …
She is the one with the pocketful of fairy dust, bags of laughter, and the knowledge to strike a balance that has the kids captivated and the adults engaged.
That’s quite something in a world where they have everything at their fingertips with iPads and iPhones.
But Honeyman won’t be phased by any of this. She simply goes next level. She has a design master (Timm) who also flies even higher than last year. He takes the audience into a wonderland unimaginable with state-of-the-art LED screens which seemingly have unlimited qualities to transform the stage constantly in front of your eyes.
The explosion of colour and artistry bedazzles you, but with typical Honeyman ingenuity, she doesn’t allow the beating heart of her production to be overwhelmed. When picking her cast, she makes sure that these are performers who command the stage and bring mountains of personality to the two or three characters everyone on stage inhabits.
And even after 20 plus pantos, some of my favourites were unrecognisable and the newbies are rehearsed to operate like seasoned pros.
From Radloff’s wicked queen to Pretorius’s and Khunou’s enchanting Princess Aurora and Snow White, to Du Plessis’s and Justin Swartz’s charmers Aladdin and Jack the Joller, we’re completely hooked from the start.
And don’t dismiss the Good Fairy (Madlala) with a voice that is as commanding as her presence, which is precisely what you want. There are truly no standouts, they all sparkle.
This is not simply one pantomime, it’s a big bunch of them, all rolled in one. To tie it all together, Honeyman has picked Good vs Evil as her theme and there’s more than enough of that going round at the moment to keep it prescient and present. She has her finger on every pulse.
It’s all in the detail. So while the enormity of the stunning costumes and travelling sets envelops you, it also allows you to take in those winks and nudges with a picture of an oh-so-famous person displayed as Employee of the Month, or a sign pointing to the Doek Nook or simply the complexity of the costumes that tell a story all their own.
It’s bright buttons and sparkly shoes, a bright kopdoek or a fancy fan as we trip our way through the abundance of adventures in this pantoland – all on a quest to preserve goodness and kindness ̶Honeyman’s credo.
While pantomimes were very much a feature of my end-of-year planning in the past, I haven’t been for a few years. And having seen 20 plus, a break was necessary. But this one is truly special.
One can always bank on Honeyman’s super powers, but this time she had double the expectations. Not only is the Joburg Theatre celebrating 60 years, this is also her and producer Bernard Jay’s 21st end-of-year celebratory collaboration.
Not many would keep it as fresh and manage to tick all the boxes all of the time. Of course she does!
Fo0r her it is all about finding the angle, which she did, having audiences lean forward into the show – and with the explosion of colour and talent on stage how could they not, but then right at the top of her list is a show with a beating heart.
Finding and exploring new wow factors and selecting a cast that will deliver with energy and enthusiasm are where Honeyman excels. It is her inner child, that constant twinkle in her eye that creates the magic and keeps pulling the audiences in.
We’re blessed in Gauteng that we don’t have to imagine the festive season without the Honeyman pantomime adventure.
You go girl!
And as an incentive, they have a special on Black Friday (this week). Buy tickets for any of the panto shows at a mere R100. That’s a steal!