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Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay announce the full cast of Janice Honeyman’s Pinocchio, the Pantomime Adventure, due in November.
Just to say the name Tobie Cronjé (Geppetto Spoletto) is almost enough to start people laughing. Probably South Africa’s best known comedy actor, he has for nearly five decades been entertaining audiences with his performances in theatre and operettas, film and television and even as a director of various dramas. But, more than anything, Tobie’s name has become almost synonymous with pantomime in South Africa, as he has played the lead in dozens of these festive season productions throughout much of his career. Tobie received great acclaim for originating the role of the woodcarver Geppetto in the premier production of Janice Honeyman’s Pinocchio in 2009.
South African-born André Schwartz (Il Fortunato, the Fox) is one of this country’s leading and best-loved entertainers. A multi-faceted and talented performer who is equally at ease in front of a camera, in a recording studio or on stage, André has entertained South African audiences since the age of 14. André has released fifteen albums, many of which received gold status. His leading roles in musical theatre include Abanazar in Janice Honeyman’s pantomime Aladdin (2006), Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music and the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
Making her Joburg Theatre pantomime debut is Chi Mhende (Pussy Galore, the Cat), an acclaimed performance and voice artist. Chi has worked extensively in the theatre, having performed in Shakespearean roles in Cape Town and in 2014 was awarded Best Actress at the Durban International Film Festival for her leading role in the feature film Love the One You Love. In July 2015, Chi accepted the role of Wandile Radebe on SABC’s Generations: The Legacy, a role that came with much controversy and chatter, questioning the producers’ casting of a female performer in a male role.
This year’s pantomime at Joburg Theatre sees a return to the age-old tradition of a female ‘principal boy’, when performer Kanyi Nokwe plays the role of Pinocchio. Kanyi is a member of the Nokwe family – now headed by her aunt Tu Nokwe – one of South Africa’s most famous musical families and sometimes called the Jacksons of Africa. Kanyi was born in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, completed her Matric at the National School of The Arts, obtained a diploma in Worship Ministry from Rhema Training Centre in 2011 and portrayed the role of a young Dorothy Masuku in the Market Theatre’s production of Divas of Kofifi.
Ilse Klink (Bella Bouboulina, the Blue Fairy) is a South African actress and singer best known for her role as Vanessa Booysens on SABC3’s Isidingo from 1999 to 2007, for which she won an Avanti Award for Best Actress in a Soapie in 2000. She also starred as Fashion Week CEO Miranda Simons in the Mzansi Magic telenovela Inkaba, from 2012 to 2013. Born in Cape Town, Ilse’s many starring roles in musical theatre include Chicago, Rent, The Full Monty and Mamma Mia!
Garth Collins (Strombolio / The Ringmaster) is probably best known for his role as Granite on the hit television show MTN Gladiators (SABC3). He has been cast in international feature films such as Mercenary for Justice, Red Waters and Berserker – Hells Warrior. Garth also spent three years on the Afrikaans KykNet soapie Villa Rosa, where he played the endearing henchman Blommie. His two major theatre acting credits have been the world premiere of The Quiet Violence of Dreams and Kiss of the Spider Woman. One of Garth’s career highlights was competing in Season 5 of Strictly Come Dancing on SABC2 as one of the celebrity dance contestants. Surprising everyone, he managed to stay in all ten episodes – making it to the semi-final before being eliminated!
Also featured in the all-South African cast are (in alphabetical order) Mauritz Badenhorst, Cameron Botha, Jay Hlatshwayo, Saxola Ketshengane, Ben Kgosimore, Sebe Leotlela, Dolly Louw, Andile Magxaki, Noni Mkhonto, Thami Njoko, Chloe Perling, J P Rossouw, Kaylan Sabbadin, Mark Tatham, Grant Towers and Sarah-Ann Van Der Merwe.
2017 celebrates Janice Honeyman’s thirtieth annual festive season pantomime. Pinocchio opens on The Mandela stage of Joburg Theatre on November 12 and runs until December 30.
Pinocchio is written and directed by Janice Honeyman, with musical direction by Coenraad Rall and choreography by Nicol Sheraton. Timothy Le Roux is resident director and Dale Scheepers is band leader. The pantomime is produced by Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay, in association with MNet, Jacaranda FM and Your Family Magazine.
With a record-breaking 22,000 seats already sold, tickets for Pinocchio from R185 are on sale: telephone 0861 670 670, go online at www.joburgtheatre.com, or book in person at the Joburg Theatre box office. Patrons can also book and pay via the Nedbank app or walk in at selected Pick ‘n Pay stores (a full list is available at www.webtickets.co.za/pnpoutlets.aspx)– or book on-line and then pay at any Pick ‘n Pay store.