By Natalia Blumenthal
March 2020 brought the world to a standstill, and theatres were forced to go dark for what would be a long 18 months. The first to close were the iconic white lights of Broadway, then the West End closed their doors, and South African theatres were then faced with the same threat. Safety curtains were dropped, theatre workers were sent home, and audiences were refunded for tickets they would not be able to redeem. Now, almost two years later, theatre communities are finally ready to get back onto the stage in a safe and controlled environment.
In South Africa, the annual Pantomime is the first primary musical production to take to the stage. People of all ages from all over the country cannot wait to be a part of this extravaganza happening at the iconic Joburg Theatre.
The show, which was postponed and cancelled during the 2020 restrictions, is becoming more prominent than ever with an exceptionally talented cast and crew. A renowned South African production designer, Andrew Timm, has come on board to transform the Joburg Theatre into a magical setting that promises to transport audiences into a fairytale. He will be utilising video animation methods to turn the stage into a whole new world.
“Being appointed production designer for Cinderella is definitely a bucket list moment for me,” admits Andrew. “With specially created animated content, we will transport the audience from the interior of a lavish castle, lit by hundreds of burning torches and candles, to the depths of a dark and foreboding forest complete with the glowing eyes of unknown creatures blinking in the darkness. The set virtually becomes another character in the show, because it can – and will – have a life of its own. The possibilities are endless!”
Writer and director of The Pantomimes, Janice Honeyman, adds, “It’s going to be such a jol working closely with Andrew Timm this year. Everything will be geared to retain the best of what has made our pantos so popular in the past – the audience-involvement traditions of the genre, my sly but purposeful double entendres, the unwrapping of the fairy tale itself through good and evil – but now adding the best of what technology and visual effects can offer to take the panto into the future.”
However, producing and executing The Pantomime symbolises so much more than the holiday season this year. After the devastation left by lockdown 2020/2021, the possibility of this production means people can go back to work and do what they do best – put on a musical! The beloved holiday pantomime helps create so many opportunities within the creative industry. It re-establishes the hope that young creatives need to keep going and keep making works of art. Of course, things may be a little different this year as COVID protocols have been implemented and will be followed with the strictest observance. As audience members, it is our responsibility to keep ourselves and those around us as safe as possible to continue the circle of the arts and allow those in the industry to flourish.
So, consider your mask your most fabulous accessory when booking your Pantomime tickets this year, and get ready to be wowed by Cinderella at the Joburg Theatre!
Tickets for Cinderella are now on sale from R240 through visiting www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling 0861 670 670. Terrific group, family, and senior citizen discounts are available.