WITH Christmas now only a few weeks away, theatres across the world are launching their traditional pantomime fare for family audiences.
Harare’s Reps Theatre is no exception and the 2007 presentation, Little Red Riding
Hood, started its run this week. A fun story with comedy and music based on the well-known children’s fable, the show is directed by Graham Crutchley, who has won a series of directing awards in recent years for his dramatic productions for The Repertory Players. It will feature all of the things that audiences expect from a “panto”— from absurd situations to sing-along opportunities and from dames who are men to principal boys played by girls.
The panto opened yesterday and runs until December 22. There are no Sunday performances, but special matinees have been arranged (December 8 and December 15), when performances will start at 2.30pm. All evening performances start at 6.30pm, a special time taking the family nature of the audiences into consideration.
“Panto is always great fun and Little Red Riding Hood promises to be one of the best, a worthy successor to highly successful productions over many years,” said Crutchley.
Cast members include Marc Thomas, a seasoned Reps veteran who has appeared in a large number of plays and pantos, and who will be joined on stage by his two sons, Michael and Stephane.
The “baddie” is Paul Shephard, who has been musical director of a number of recent productions, while other stars include Sue and Martin Bolt, Sue Evans, Betty Hobbs and Fadzai Matiringa, among others.
Ticket prices include a discount for children and a special discount for pensioners, based on a policy at Reps to ensure access by as many members of the public as possible.
“Reps Theatre has enjoyed a busy and successful 12 months and Little Red Riding Hood. Our penultimate production, is aimed at capping this with a fun, light-hearted show that takes people’s minds off the challenges of the present day,” Crutchley said.
Meanwhile, the Campbell Theatre Club in Kadoma has set what could be a world record of 59 consecutive annual pantomimes with its 2007 production, The King’s New Clothes.
Directed by David Hockaday, it will run for two performances tonight (7.30pm) and tomorrow (5pm).
It is thought that no other theatrical society has achieved this feat and it underscores how remarkable it is that, given current circumstances, any theatre in Zimbabwe cannot only keep on going but can turn out good productions on a regular basis.
Kadoma’s pantomimes have always been well received and have been both box office and critical successes, so it is hoped this year will be no different.Also coming up for pre-Christmas entertainment, but this time in Harare, is Theory X’s exciting production The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
This is being directed by Zane Lucas and will run at the Harare International School Theatre from tomorrow to December 15, with advance booking already open at The Spotlight.
Zane has a fine cast working hard for this production, including Kevin Hanssen, Simon de Swardt, Thea Cutler, Jason Linforth, Matthew Trustham, Dean Flight and Brooke Franklin, among many others.
Zane said this play would be different in a wide range of areas — over and above the obvious — when compared to the recent film version, but the essence of the story has been captured and it would appeal to audiences of all ages. — Own Correspondent.