A Christmas Carol (the Dickens one)

It was my Standard Six (Grade 8 in modern parlance) set work, and I settled down to read the required number of chapters of A Christmas Carol as homework (I didn’t normally do homework, but I liked reading).  I finished the book a few short hours later. It was my first Charles Dickens book, but I was already hooked.  I’ve had a soft spot for the work ever since, which is fortunate, because it is regularly revived.


This year one can see Elizma Badenhorst’s adaptation for VR Theatrical at The Studio Theatre, Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre, again (It was a hit last year).  Directed by Elizma Badenhorst with a soundscape by Wessel Odendaal and animation by Naret Loots, this is a charming production.

Jason K Ralph portrays Ebenezer Scrooge with Naret Loots playing everyone else, often with puppets, as the transformation of Scrooge from mean and miserly to generous and great takes place after the Spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas future have done their work.

I missed the play last year (regular readers will know my health woes of 2017) and I was delighted to catch it this year.  It really is very entertaining, even though Scrooge was eager to learn his lessons from the Christmas Spirits, rather than reluctant, even terrified, as in the book.

Take note of the fact that this book is not a set work until children reach high school. The play adaptation is unlikely to entrance younger children, but it will thrill the young person inside the crabbiest of adults.

A Christmas Carol can be seen until 6 January 2019.

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The Play That Goes (so deliciously) Wrong

The programme for The Play That Goes Wrong informs us that the action takes place on opening night of the Northriding Polytechnic Drama Society’s production of the murder mystery play “Murder at Haversham Manor”.

The Play that goes wrong 1

The set, built by Verita Brand, is a typical box set and the stage is crawling with stage hands and behind the scenes workers as the auditorium goes live.  There is no doubt that we are seeing the professional theatre maker’s worst nightmare.

Directed by Alan Committie, an experienced comic  actor, the ensemble comprising Sive Gubangxa (stage hand Annie), Louis Viljoen (sound man Trevor), Russel Savadier (Chris who plays Inspector Carter) , Daniel Janks (Jonathan who plays Charles Haversham), Antony Coleman (Robert who plays Thomas Colleymore), Roberto Pombo (Denis who plays Perkins), Craig Jackson (Max who plays Cecil Haversham and Arthur, the gardener) and Nicole Franco (Sandra who plays Florence Colleymore) is a marvellous one.  It is more difficult to hold a cast of individuals together when one is aiming at being hilariously bad than when one is aiming at being seriously good, but Committie manages this feat.

The charm of the play lies in the marginal plausibility of dreadful that every parent of school children has seen in school plays, projected onto the awfulness of some “am dram” (amateur dramatics) that one may have been coerced into watching over the years.

The genre here is farce (and a play within a play that makes the Shakespearean academic prototype in Midsummer Night’s Dream seem perfectly reasonable) and it comes as a shock to me to realise that it was a regular part of my theatre diet nearly fifty years ago. One sees little of it now, but during the silly season of December and January, the silliness is delightful and I found myself laughing delightedly at stuff which would probably irritate me in the solemnity of a Gauteng winter.

Of course, in the case of any farce, much of the real humour is in the visual component (skilfully acted out by the cast), rather than in the script itself (by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields) and at one point it literally brings the house down.

The Play That Goes Wrong is perfect entertainment for the Christmas/New Year/pre back to school and work season for everyone.

It is on at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre.  There is full disabled access to this theatre and one can take one’s drinks in.

Highlights of the 2019 season include Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, now celebrating 65 years on the boards in London.  It will be its second run here in South Africa and it promises to be delightful.  Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods will also be performed here next year.  Every second year over the Christmas season there is an ice show performed by the Imperial Ice Stars, and in 2019, the production will be Peter Pan on Ice, a storyline as much suited for boys as for girls.

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Cinderella, better than ever

Joburg Ballet is on a roll.  They are producing some great ballet at the moment and their current production of Cinderella at Montecasino is no exception.

Joburg Ballet_Shannon Glover (Cinderella) & Ruan Galdino (the Prince) in Cinderella_Photo Lauge Sorensen_print res

Shannon Glover (Cinderella) and Ruan Galdino (Prince) in Cinderella at Montecasino. Photo by Lauge Sorensen for Joburg Ballet

Choreographed by Iain MacDonald to music by Johann Strauss II (or the younger), this is a feel good production in every way.  The set by Andrew Botha is complemented by lighting by Simon King.  This production saw the light of day a few years back and it has mellowed in the interim.

I attended opening night on Friday 14 December, 2018, where the title role was danced by Shannon Glover.  I often find Glover a bit mechanical, but she pulled out all the stops and delivered a nuanced performance, particularly in the “poor Cinderella” scenes.  She didn’t do quite as well in the scenes with her Prince, Ruan Galdino, where she failed to convince us that she was a love-struck young woman. The dancing was, of course, lovely.

Kitty Phetla was the Stepmother, with Chase Bosch and Keke Chele hamming it up as the stepsisters.  It was delightful for those of us who enjoy the over-the-top sisters.  I  heard children giggling with pleasure at these scenes and that added to my enjoyment.  One should never forget that this is a ballet created for family audiences, and the fare for the not so old is vitally important for audience building for the future.

Joburg Ballet_Keke Chele (Carla), Kitty Pheta (Stepmother) & Chase Bosch (Louise) in Cinderella_Photo Bill Zurich

The evil trio, Keke Chele (left) as Carla, Kitty Phetla as the Step-Mother and Chase Bosch (right) as Louise. Photography by Lauge Sorensen for Joburg Ballet

The Jester was danced by Thabang Mabaso and the Fairy Godmother by Claudia Monja.  Monja has a warm personality which shines through and makes her an ideal choice for a role like the Fairy Godmother, a character liked by everyone.

Joburg Ballet_Claudia Monja as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella_Photo Lauge Sorensen

Claudia Monja as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at Montecasino’s Teatro. That smile never waivers. Photograph by Lauge Soren for Joburg Ballet.

The mice are just too cute, both the adult mice and the children mice.

All round this is a charming ballet and it made me happy.  It will make please almost all childlike hearts.  The run is short, ending on 23 December 2018.

A reminder that there are tickets available for sale this weekend only for 20 and 21 December 2018 at a special reduced rate.  Book online as soon as possible as after the weekend the sale price will end.  I posted about this yesterday, and simply remind you about it again today. It is not too late, but do not delay.  The cast lists are also available on the other post.

Nothing to do with Joburg Ballet, but a comment born out of our visit yesterday. Montecasino’s Teatro area has “disabled” parking, but it is not reserved and is often taken up by people who don’t really seem to need it.  I would recommend that Montecasino reserve the four parking spots closest to the door, in addition to the current one they allow, for disabled patrons to park.  It would certainly make a difference for those of us who struggle to get around with sticks and other aids which are not wheelchairs.




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The Boy Who Cried Ninja is a delight

The youngsters who accompanied me to see The Boy Who Cried Ninja loved it.  They sat in the theatre at the end and demanded to see it again.  The cast, Taryn Bennett, James Cairns and Toni Morkel are fabulous.  They posed for photographs with the children, although they did decline to perform it again immediately.


Robyn Sassen gives the production 10/10 in her review and I concur entirely.  There is absolutely nothing to fault.  Design by Alastair Findlay, original music and soundscape by Sue Grealy, puppets by Andy Jones, script by Jenine Collocott and the cast, and all the various pieces which contribute to a what is a solid sterling production are marvellous.  I loved the costumes, sourced by Taryn Bennett, and the dress up of the audience members who become part of the production towards the end.

My favourite part was where the octopus ate the homework.

The Boy Who Cried Ninja is loosely based on the fable of the boy who cried “Wolf!” but in this case the child is telling the truth and the adults don’t believe him.  The audience gets to interact with the work, deciding whether the main character should tell the truth and be disbelieved, or whether just to tell lies to make life simpler.

The play ends with balls being bounced into the auditorium and then with the children on the stage, playing with the cast.  Such a lot of fun.


The Boy Who Cried Ninja is based on a story by the South African author and illustrator, Alex Latimer.  It is adapted and directed by Jenine Collocott and produced by Daphne Kuhn at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in association with Contagious Theatre.

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Jade Bowers directs the now well established South African children’s musical, Goggas, by Gillian Katz as adapted by the late Francois Theron.


“Goggas” are what South African children call all creepy crawlies, but particularly insects.  This work features a British monarch butterfly, Lady Caroline (Carla Classen) who accidentally stows away on a flight bound for South Africa and her quest, aided by Antic the Ant (Jaques de Silva), to get back to the airport to return home.

Along the route we find the Bumble Bee who is allergic to honey (Katlego Nche), Connie the Chameleon (Louise Duhain), Stinky the Stink Bug and Leafy, the stick insect (Thokozani Jiyane), Lola the Ladybird (Alyssa Harrison) and the Queen Bee (Maryanne van Eyssen).

My all-time favourite for this production is Antic the Ant played with enthusiasm and charisma by Jaques de Silva.  I wanted to scoop him up and take him home.  Alas, Antic the Ant stayed to continue his adventures with his pals.

Goggas is a charming production, as always and the little ones will be entranced. Jade Bowers holds everything together so well and the cast are delightful.  Dale Scheepers is the Musical Director, Jaques de Silva the Choreographer, with set design by Stan Knight, Costumes by Sarah Roberts and Lighting by Jane Gosnell.  Stage management is by Willie van Staden. The production is Lotto funded.

Production dates are November and December 2018.

Next year the National Children’s Theatre productions already announced are Duck for President in February through to April 2019, Miss Nelson is missing! From March to April 2019, and The Railway Children in June and July 2019.

A Short Cut to a short life and My Children! My Africa! Will both be touring next year.


Visit their website on www.nationalchildrenstheatre.org.za or Contact Sydwell Koopedi: sydwell@nctt.org.za

Follow current shows on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/117104588327503 and keep up to date with production news on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NCTParktown and Instagram: https://instagram.com/nctparktown/

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Ballet Bargains

30% off for tickets on 20 and 21 December 2018 if you book on or before the 15th December 2018.

Ballet special

Casting for Cinderella at The Teatro at Montecasino
For the roles of Cinderella, Prince, Stepmother, Fairy Godmother, Court Jester / Casting subject to change
Fri 14 Dec 19:30: Shannon Glover, Ruan Galdino, Kitty Phetla, Claudia Monja, Thabang Mabaso – STANDARD PRICES
Sat 15 Dec 15:00: Monike Cristina, Revil Yon, Shannon Glover, Nicole Ferreira-Dill, Ivan Domiciano – STANDARD PRICES
Sun 16 Dec 14:00: Nicole Ferreira-Dill, Armando Barros, Kitty Phetla, Sanmarie Kreuzhuber, Ivan Domiciano – STANDARD PRICES
Wed 19 Dec 15:00: Shana Dewey, Bruno Miranda, Claudia Monja, Nicole Ferreira-Dill, Tumelo Lekana – STANDARD PRICES
Thu 20 Dec 15:00: Nicole Ferreira-Dill, Armando Barros, Kitty Phetla, Sanmarie Kreuzhuber, Laurance James – 30% OFF DURING CHRISTMAS SALE
Fri 21 Dec 19:30: Shana Dewey, Bruno Miranda, Sanmarie Kreuzhuber, Claudia Monja, Thabang Mabaso – 30% OFF DURING CHRISTMAS SALE
Sat 22 Dec 15:00: Monike Cristina, Revil Yon, Shannon Glover, Nicole Ferreira-Dill, Ivan Domiciano – STANDARD PRICES
Sun 23 Dec 14:00: Shannon Glover, Ruan Galdino, Sanmarie Kreuzhuber, Claudia Monja, Thabang Mabaso – STANDARD PRICES

Follow the company on Facebook.com/joburgballetcompany, Instagram.com/joburgballet, @JoburgBallet #Cinderella or visit www.joburgballet.com.

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Bengingazi, pointe to pantsula

I saw “When Ballet meets Jazz” and loved it.  Sexy and new with live music by a fabulous sextet headed by Andre Petersen, it was everything I hoped it would be – and then some.  The only thing I would have preferred not to have been there was the classical dance to recorded music.  The jazz was perfect – even when they played classical items.

Below is the press release for Bengingazi, a mixture of styles.  I’m looking forward to this one.  Four days only.

Mzansi Ballet has pleasure in presenting Bengingazi a celebration and fusion of classical ballet, pantsula, flamenco and contemporary dance in a truly inspirational South African story at the Pieter Toerien Theatre – Montecasino, from 31 October to 4 November.

Mzanzi Ballet directed by Dirk Badenhorst has brought together some of SA’s leading dancers in classical ballet, contemporary and pantsula. Top ballet dancers, Angela Malan, Michael Revie, Angela Revie, professional pantsula dancers from Soweto, Stembiso ‘Mada’ Makhanya, (Madamore) and Alexandra Rockstars and flamenco dancer Ndumiso (Faya) Tafeni. We are indeed also delighted to announce that Aaron Smyth will be joining the cast. Mr Smyth is the recipient of Best Performer at the recent Shanghai International Ballet Competition as well as a previous medalist of the South African International Ballet Competition, SAIBC.

Bengingazi Pic1.jpg

Bengingazi meaning “I did not know”, presents as an innovative, stylish and unique “Fairy Tale” between a man from Soweto skilled in the art of pantsula dancing who meets a classical ballerina. They have an affair and unbeknown to the man they produce a son who is brought up in the world of classical ballet. However when the Mother is one day introduced to the art of pantsula, she decides to introduce the son to the father creating an amazing fusion of the two different worlds of dance.  A live singer on stage will further enhance this story line and add a cross over appeal in entertainment to a young, sexy audience.

Bengingazi Pic2.jpg

The spectacular White Swan pas de deux as well as solos from the Dying Swan and the Grand pas from Don Quixote will also be danced. Choreographies for Bengingazi led by renowned South African choreographer Adele Blank will also include contributions by Mada Stembiso, Angela Revie, Dirk Badenhorst and Aaron Smyth with music composition by Nic Paton.


Bookings at Computicket.

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