Tobie Cronjé, hams it up delightfully as the fading but flamboyant Dame Nora Nursey, with his accomplished one-liners giving the adults some saucy moments to savour. Review by LESLEY STONES.
“Oh no – she’s going to get pricked!” shrieks the kid behind me.
He is terrified and thrilled simultaneously, watching Sleeping Beauty climb the spooky steps in the glittering place in front of us. As an adult it is easy to be glib about the annual Janice Honeyman panto, but every year it holds the young ones spellbound.
This year’s production of Sleeping Beauty is as lavish, glittery and camp as ever, with ridiculously gaudy costumes and madcap make-up. The special effects are great fun, with a scary dragon delivering the wicked witch, and a motorbike delivering the gorgeous hero. The jokes vary from lame, to laughable, to topical, and the sets are consistently gorgeous. It is exactly what you would expect, with the tried and tested routine having the kids shouting, everyone singing, and good triumphing over evil, so everything ends happily in a lavish wedding. Knowing what to expect doesn’t detract from the individual details, however.
A highlight is lithe and lovely Christopher Jaftha, as Prince Harry Hunkador, who shows the potential to become the most sought-after lead actor for anything that involves dancing, singing and looking sexy. He moves superbly, and choreographer Nicol Sheraton gives him plenty of opportunity to impress. The dancing is good all round, with nine youngsters from the Art of Motion dance school adding to the overall professionalism and slickness.
The lighting effects by Graham McLusky are splendid, and the rich sound is delivered by the band in the orchestra pit led by Marga Sander. The songs include some of the past year’s hot favourites, which might have baffled the adults, but had their kids jiggling about in raptures.
Princess Aurora-Adora is played with sweet charm by Nicole Fortuin, while Michelle Botha has a lot of fun playing the Wicked Fairy, and does it beautifully, scaring the kids with obvious relish. Timothy Moloi, as Sir Poensface Ponce-a-Lot, the court herald and kingly organiser, bustles around self-importantly and presents a humorous double act with court jester, Clive Gilson.
Poor Candida Mosoma, who was supposed to play the central role of Fairy Floradora Daisy, was taken to hospital right at the start of the run, and was replaced by Maryanne Van Eyssen. Van Eyssen is word and movement perfect, but seems to have a most distracting American twang, despite coming from Port Elizabeth. She does not sparkle, yet, but handles the job competently.
Panto favourite, Tobie Cronjé, hams it up delightfully as the fading but flamboyant Dame Nora Nursey, with his accomplished one-liners giving the adults some saucy moments to savour. Two unexpected perks are Matthew Berry and Dionne Song as the mice, who give us some neat little interludes, and show great flair despite their small roles. The show slips from one magical moment to the next with ease, making full use of the huge stage to create a sparkling pageant of song and dance.
I saw it on a Saturday evening when the cast was putting on its third show of the day. Yet they were so lively and enthusiastic, that it could have been the first run of the season. DM
Sleeping Beauty runs at the Joburg Theatre until December 30. Bookings through www.joburgtheatre.com or 0861 670 670.