The panto is back and better than ever

In 2020, the Joburg Theatre pantomime had to be postponed due to the pandemic. However after a year of no pantomime, the show is back in 2021. The 2021 edition of Janice Honeyman’s pantomime has returned to the Joburg Theatre with Cinderella. Theatre goers can expect all of the traditional elements of a pantomime with some added surprises. 

The show was originally supposed to be performed last year. However, in July 2020, the theatre announced the postponement of the show due to the pandemic. Even the postponement of the show to 2021 seemed unlikely to happen due to the various lockdowns and waves. CEO of the Joburg Theatre, Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema said: “We are not out of the woods yet, but we have been thrown a lifeline through the vaccination rollout…” 

The theatre has obviously had to adapt to “the new normal”. All theatre-goers are required to wear masks and sanitise before entering the theatre. There is also social distancing throughout the theatre seating. However, none of this takes away from the magic of the show. There are still brilliant costumes, stage productions, and musical performances. The show also brings together writer and director Honeyman with executive producer Bernard Jay once more.


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Then there is the special surprise for audiences. All theatre productions are characterised by the fantastic and mega-scale stages that are built to depict the different scenes of the show. Cinderella is no different. However, this time the production team has married the traditional stage elements with special effects. The live performance is combined with projections and 3D graphics on over 500 LED screens. There are disco lights and pyrotechnics which all add to the delight of the show. Andrew Timm who joined the team for the first time as production designer is responsible for these improvements. 

Besides the props and technology, it is the thespians on stage who truly make the show. The entire cast from the main characters to the supporting dancers and singers come together to give a brilliant performance. There is of course the main characters of Cinderella (Kiruna-Lind Devar) and Prince Charming (Kyle Grant) showing everyone the magic of a happy-ever-after. We cannot forget the stepsisters played excellently by Desmond Dube and Ben Voss. 

But no doubt, one of the most memorable performances has to be by Bongi Mthombeni as Bru’ Buttons. He plays the role of Cinderella’s best friend and the second lead in the show – hopelessly pining after Cinderella. Mthombeni is so good as the supportive best friend and heartbroken recipient of unrequited love. He truly brings the whole show together. 

The show has a little bit of everything for everyone. While young audiences might not get the political and mature jokes which adults will enjoy, they will definitely enjoy the songs and slapstick comedy. The younger audience members are also likely to enjoy the appearance of the TikTok trends which the older people might not understand. There’s also a special treat for BTS fans with all three of the group’s recent English hits being performed in the show along with local and international hits.

The pantomime is on at the Joburg Theatre from November 5 until December 24. 

Featured image by enroC pics