Monday, 10 November 2014 10:59

Twerking Tinkers, smelly socks and sugar rushes

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Tinker Bell played by Thembsie Matu with Captain Hook played by Craig Urbani Tinker Bell played by Thembsie Matu with Captain Hook played by Craig Urbani Pictures by Mariola Biela

Peter Pan is a panto with a difference ... a twerking Tinker with a lot of ‘tude, a scratch and sniff card with all the aromas of the panto, a deus ex machina in the form of a Capital Air helicopter suspended from the ceiling, an exploding bomb, the biggest, most piratical villain of them all and the audience doing the Waka Waka.

Writer/director Janice Honeyman pulled it off once again with another seasonal triumph resplendant with special effects, which had the audience either weeing themselves with laughter, oohing and aaahing or bopping in their seats.

The panto is more of a child magnet than the Pied Piper and the Joburg Theatre was crammed to the gunnels with little girls in the requisite pink spangled tutus, wands and sparkly shoes and little boys shooting bullet-like across the floor, all of them hopped up on more sugar than the Duracell Bunny. There were even several sets of twins.

To some sour faced adults' discomfiture there were gurgles of delight throughout the performance, loud comments of: "She's not really going to die, is she?", ear piercing squeals and heavy breathing in the next door theatregoer's ear, hoppings up and down like a frog, and enthusiastic singalongs to all the musical numbers.

When the balloons came down at the end of the show some mommies and daddies grabbed armfuls, leaving the back rows to deal with the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the small and balloonless.

Fortunately the over the head of the kiddies jokes helped calm frazzled nerves of some of the parents who had been press ganged into buying snack packs for their little darlings since 2.30pm. They should not have bothered though - because there were free sweeties after the show handed out by patient people in riot gear who were fending off all the sticky little fingers.

Craig Urbani put the "arrr" into "pirraaate" and his Captain Hook was quite delightfully hateful, especially when he did the Crocodile Rock in those poncy piratical boots - no doubt harking back to the days when Craig was the poster boy for Grease, the musical.

Under the green lighting Capn Hook's nimble booted evasion of the horde of snapping crocodile jaws (some from the orchestra pit) would have made even Dick van Dyke jealous.

Tinkerbelle was another gem of a role. Normally one thinks of  the bitchy Tinker, who likes a "pinch of fairy dust", as teeny tiny and ethereal. But Thembie's Tinker is larger than life and she has a penchant for judo outfits coupled with a red tutu. She certainly does not like "u-Wendy", who is a rival for Peter Pan's affections. Her sassy rendition of a curvy gal with "fairytude" is irresistible and she gets a large "AWWWWWW" every time from the audience when she drinks Peter's muti.

Weslee Swain Lauder played the loveable dame ... in this case, Dame Clementina Coconut whose day job was nanny to the Darling family but moonlighted as wife to Smee the pirate, with a brood of little Neverland kids. She set off to find them at about the same time as Peter Pan flew into the nursery and made off with a mother for his boys. Talk about serendipity!

But back to those smelly socks ... Janice Honeyman wanted to incorporate a sense of smell into the pantomime this year, so the "Peter Pan Odourama" was created by Bernard Jay and Sandy Morton for the occasion. The audience was given a scratch and sniff card impregnated with six smells, ranging from Mrs Darling's rosy perfume to bad crocodile breath, and invited to reveal the various smells along the way.

This ingenious approach elicited loud comments of "DISGUSTING" and holdings of dainty little noses, especially when the audience encountered Tiger Lily and Starkey's garlic pizza parlour, which was very garlicky indeed.

The panto always has the most topical references, the corniest/filthiest jokes, song and dance routines of the latest hits, and something for everyone.

It's tempting to tell the whole plot but please stop me ... nothing worse than a spoiler alert.

Go and see the panto for yourselves, it's on right up until December 28, but take my advice which I give every year: make sure you sprog up. The panto just isn't the same without children!

 

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