With the festive season upon us and the official opening night of Pinocchio, the foyer outside the Mandela Theatre was adorned with Christmas trees, lights and every child's dream - candy!
Candy Land (a significant part of the story of Pinocchio) was the theme of the night and the organisers did not fall short to bring it to life at the Joburg Theatre! Picture a life-sized Pinocchio cardboard standee, a Panto Land train cut-out where you can take great family photos, candy canes, candy straws, marshmallows on sticks with little Pinocchio cut outs, and Chocolate bars... We were definitely in for a treat!
With Pantomimes, interaction is always the thrill so having an aisle seat close to the front of the stage is absolute heaven, especially when our three year old son managed to get a high five from Pinocchio!
The stage was immaculately set, transporting us to Italy with its Renaissance statues and props as the music played... "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie.... That's Amore".
Each and every performer played their character to perfection, and displayed an extraordinary standard of professionalism, including the young actors and actresses from Born to Perform.
As part of the pantomime formula, and as a way to introduce a mentorship programme to performing arts institutions, Joburg Theatre has decided to incorporate the Born to Perform students to take part in this year’s pantomime.
This year, Gemma Donnelly and Matthew Marinus' Stageworx School of Performing Arts - Born to Perform cast had a chance to perform alongside some of the industry's greats.
Born to Perform is definitely the correct term to describe these upcoming artists as they took the stage by storm and added a whole new exciting flavour to the Pantomime. Their singing and dancing was of a very high standard especially when they took on the role of bringing the toys to life, like the little ballerina girl moving to the sound of the music as though she was a toy ballerina being brought to life.
A Pantomime is not a Pantomime without a fairy-type narrator and Ilse Klink who plays Bella Bouboulina did a fantastic job of filling the role as the Blues Fairy of Pinocchio.
Mark Tatham displayed an excellent little gogga and conscience, in his role as Jiminy Cricket as he hopped around and danced on the stage and Garth Collins made each character of his three types of villains (Strombolio, The Ringmaster and The Bad Boatman) very convincing.
Image Supplied by Pinocchio SA
Chi Mhende who played Pussy Galore, the Cat and Andre Schwartz who played Il Fortunato, the Fox were exceptionally good portraying their evil characters, that the audience sometimes forgot that they were the bad guys and cheered them on instead of boo-ing them.
Dame Arletti Spaghetti (Grant Towers), her son Lampwick (Ben Kgosimore) and Dolly (Dolly Louw) had the audience singing and clapping along with them with their beautiful voices and entertaining personalities, while Tobie Cronje was the perfect fit for Gepetto. I cannot imagine another person for the role as his white hair and whimsical persona displayed the qualities that I would expect to see in a real-life Gepetto combined with South African (and Italian) origins.
Image Supplied by Pinocchio SA
Pinocchio, played by Kanyi Nokwe, was by far the most impressive at her consistency of her mobility considering each remarkable step and dance move she made as a marionette.
An absolutely amazing performance all round and a must see for the entire family.