Each year, kiddies and the young-at-heart flock to the Joburg Theatre for Janice Honeyman’s pantomime – and this year was no different.
After the opening performance, many patrons were gushing that the show was her best yet. I have to agree.
This is because Sleeping Beauty is a panto on steroids – the sets, costumes and props are bigger and better than ever before, the gags sillier and the cast crazier.
Legendary actor Tobie Cronje is back this year to play Dame Nora Nursery, the doomed princess’s nanny who spends most of her time trying in a rather lecherous way to bag herself a date. Cronje’s comic timing on stage simply can’t be beaten and his over-the-top get-up was worthy of any episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Michelle Botha, as the evil villain Kakkamella Khakibos, was brilliant, striking fear into the hearts of younger audience members. Her demonic, dog-like soldiers freaked out the little girl behind me enough to make her dad take her outside, and the giant spider Kakkamella conjured up had my young companion clinging to me, saying “I’m scared”.
Unfortunately Sister Act star Candida Mosoma, who was to play the Good Fairy Floradora Daisy, had to pull out of the show due to health issues, but Maryanne van Eyssen did an excellent job in the role.
The pantomime is known for its thinly veiled risque jokes. This year’s humour pushed the envelope even further, bringing in sexual innuendo, current affairs and digs at public figures. Kakkamella’s red beret and jumpsuit were a less-than-subtle dig at a particular political leader. Eye candy was provided by Chris Jaftha as Prince Harry Hunkador the Handsome, who saved the day while showing off his abs.
Aside from some moments being a tad too scary for kids, my only other criticism would be that the first half was a bit long. Expecting little people to sit through more than an hour of theatre is ambitious.
Janice Honeyman’s Sleeping Beauty
- Cast: Tobie Cronje, Michelle Botha, Chris Jaftha
- Director: Janice Honeyman
- Theatre: The Mandela at Joburg Theatre until December 30.