Riding through the royal forest of Sherwood on a glorious May morning, you don’t have a care in the world. Then you hear a bird call, the faint rustling of trees, and suddenly a man armed with a longbow appears in your path. He wears a feathered cap, or is that a hood? You can’t see the man’s face clearly, but you don’t have to. He is dressed in Lincoln green, the colour of Robin Hood – the most famous English outlaw of all time.
The earliest surviving Robin Hood ballad, Robin Hood and The Monk, dates from the 15th Century. Subsequently, the legend has become one of the most popular movie and TV stories of all time: from Robin Hood and His Merry Men, a 1908 silent film; to British television’s long-running series The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-59); to 1973’s Walt Disney’s Robin Hood; to Mel Brooks’ hilarious Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993); and to the 2010 movie Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe.
And now comes Janice Honeyman’s brand new pantomime adventure, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, on the stage of The Mandela at Joburg Theatre from November 5th to December 30th 2016.
The plot combines the babes-lost-in-the-forest story with the Robin Hood legend. The young children, Hansel and Gretel, come to visit their uncle, the Sheriff of Nottingham, little suspecting that he is plotting their demise. But never fear, help is at hand – in the shape of Robin and his Merry Men, plus Maid Marian and the Spirit of the Forest!
Playing the role of Robin in his first Joburg Theatre pantomime is Izak Davel, best known to TV viewers as Isidingo’s arrogant Bradley Haines, and whose hit recordings include Verlei My, Is Jy In Of Is Jy Uit and Vreesloos.
Much loved panto star Desmond Dube returns to Joburg Theatre to play the jovial Friar Tuck, Idols finalist Bongi Mthombeni features in his fifth Joburg Theatre pantomime as the dandy Will Scarlet and leading lady of South African musical theatre, Kate Normington, will surely be wildly comic as Silly Sylviana, the Spirit of the Forest!
Also featured in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood are Graham Hopkins as the villainous Norman the Nasty, Sheriff of Nottingham, L J Urbani as the ever-popular panto Dame Emmarentia Ugly, Phumi Mncayi as chief lieutenant of the Merry Men, Little John, award-winning actress Candida Mosoma as Much the Miller’s Son (written with an inevitable panto twist!), beautiful Carmen Pretorius as Robin’s love interest, Maid Marian, and Jaco Van Rensburg as the wandering minstrel, Alan-a-Dale.
Joining them in the all-South-African cast are, in alphabetical order, TeeKay Baloyi, Darius Engelbrecht, Clive Gilson, Nuritt Graff, Kyra Green, Dirk Joubert, Dolly Louw, Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri, Tsepho Ncokoane, Noni Nkonto, Dale Scheepers, Natasha Van Der Merwe and Maryanne Van Eyssen.
“It’s an exciting year for us when Janice Honeyman writes a brand new pantomime script,” says Bernard Jay, Executive Producer of the panto. “We don’t know exactly what to expect until the last minute, but we do know it will be full of her magical flair for story-telling, spectacular special effects, zany comedy and outrageous double entendres!”
Writer / director Janice Honeyman collaborates with producer Bernard Jay on their sixteenth Joburg Theatre pantomime together. Rowan Bakker joins the team this year as musical director; Nicol Sheraton returns as choreographer; the eagerly anticipated, over-the-top, fabulous sets and costumes are once again supplied by Qdos in the UK; the lighting design is by Graham McLusky; sound design by Trevor Peters; and Timothy Le Roux is the resident director. As with many past successful pantomime productions at Joburg Theatre, Claire Pacariz and Simon James serve as associate producers.
Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood has preview performances on The Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre on November 5th and 6th with tickets from R170. Its official Opening Night is scheduled for Sunday November 6th and the season continues until December 30th, with tickets priced from R220.
Over 30,000 tickets have already been sold for this year’s panto, so best to hurry and get yours now for South Africa’s most popular family entertainment tradition. Tickets are available by visiting www.joburgtheatre.com or calling 0861 670 670, as well as through Webtickets and at Pick ‘n’ Pay stores. For group bookings of 10 or more, contact the theatre directly on 011 877 6853/6815.
For details of the full schedule and performance times, visit www.joburgtheatre.com