31 years of Janice Honeyman’s unique brand of Panto

In 1987, at the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein, writer/director Janice Honeyman created her first pantomime, based on the classic fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Joburg Theatre Pantomime Snow White
Tshepo Ncokoane is Prince Chuck B Charming and Kiruna-Lind Devar is Snow White

Now, 31 years later, Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay present Janice Honeyman’s Snow White, The Fairest Panto in All The Land, opening on The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre on 3 November and running until 23 December.
     While this year’s pantomime was still in its development stages (during which time, Janice Honeyman was also busy with rehearsals for a production at the Market Theatre as well as The Color Purple at Joburg Theatre), Creative Feel caught up with Honeyman to find out more about this much-loved Johannesburg spectacular. ‘Do you know that I am doing pantomime number 31 this year?’ she says. ‘Thirty-one years of the same thing at Christmastime and, you know what? It’s actually great fun. I still have a lovely time when I am doing them.’
     Today, generations who have grown up with Honeyman’s signature, annual panto are now taking their own children.
     Bigger and more spectacular than ever, the classic evergreen story of Snow White will be brought to life once again from page to stage in an enchanting production complete with an all-star cast, stunning sets, beautiful costumes, breath-taking special effects – including a never-before-seen-in-South-Africa, amazing interactive journey into the forest in 3D! – and lots and lots of comedy (with maybe a few double-entendres thrown in… ).

Joburg Theatre Pantomime Snow White
Desmond Dube is Dame Dolla Diddledaddledoodledragon in Snow White

     South African movie, television, stage and comedy star Desmond Dube returns to his fifth Joburg Theatre pantomime, playing the comic role of Dame Dolla Diddledaddledoodledragon, having become one of Joburg audiences’ most loved panto stars.
     Legendary 702 talk radio show host and international champion rugby player John Robbie makes his pantomime debut in Snow White as The Major-Dumb-Ou of the Royal Palace of Cool Cornucopia. Robbie recently retired after 30 years on 702, having built an unrivalled reputation on air for professionalism, integrity and fairness.
     Ben Voss is a comedian, actor and playwright, best known for his portrayal of the fictional South African businesswoman, Beauty Ramapelepele, using the alter ego of Beauty to deliver satirical social commentary.  In Snow White, Ben will play the role of the Wicked Queen Hildegonda Hoggenham.
     Snow White also features two of South Africa’s most highly acclaimed rising theatre stars, Kiruna-Lind Devar (Sweet Charity, Saturday Night Fever, Evita) as the Princess and Tshepo Ncokoane (Janice Honeyman’s Sleeping Beauty, Priscilla, The Color Purple) as Prince Chuck B Charming.

Joburg Theatre Pantomime Snow White
Ben Voss is Wicked Queen Hildegonda Hoggenham and John Robbie is Major Dumb-Ou in Snow White

     ‘This is the reason why I love doing the pantos. Ncokoane has been a really faithful chorus member for quite a few years, getting a little bit more of a part every year and now this year he is playing Prince Chuck B Charming. Seeing them go through the ranks, seeing them learn the techniques of pantomime and finally being able to take on lead roles, that is something I enjoy doing very much. I enjoy working with a cast of young people whom we can teach and older people who can do the teaching but can also borrow some of the young energy,’ says Honeyman.
     Also in the all-South African cast are (in alphabetical order) Oscar Buthelezi, Matt Counihan, Sne Dladla, Daniel Keith Geddes, Emil Haarhoff, Dirk Joubert, Saxola Ketshengane, Sebe Leotlela, Dolly Louw, Namisa Mdlalose, Noni Mkhonto, Sabelo Radebe, Senzesihle Radebe, JP Rossouw, Kaylan Sabbadin, Nicol Sheraton, Nkanyiso Shezi, Lindo Sithole and Sarah-Ann Van Der Merwe.

Joburg Theatre Pantomime Snow White
Snow White with the seven dwarves

     Snow White is written and directed by Janice Honeyman, with musical direction by Coenraad Rall and choreography by Nicol Sheraton. Bernard Jay serves as executive producer of this, his 18th Janice Honeyman pantomime.
     ‘Each year, Joburg Theatre audiences expect us to exceed with surprises and to go over-the-top with spectacle,’ says Executive Producer of the panto, Bernard Jay. ‘Janice Honeyman and the team have been “shopping” for effects around the world and I know that this production of Snow White will live up to our panto reputation in every aspect.’
     Janice Honeyman’s Snow White will be on the stage of The Nelson Mandela Theatre at Joburg Theatre from 3 November to 23 December 2018.
     Performance times vary according to the Festive Season schedule – consult www.joburgtheatre.com to get exact dates and times.
     Tickets range from R245 – R375 and can be booked at www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling 0861 670 670. Theatre patrons can also book online and pay at selected Pick N Pay stores.