Panto perfection for award-winning couple

Mark and Yolande Farrow scooped best director of the year awards on Saturday
Picture: Londeka Dlamini

The versatile duo of Mark and Yolande Farrow were double winners at last weekend’s 12th Night Awards which recognises Port Elizabeth dramatic talent.

The Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society (Pemads) hosts the celebratory awards on January 6 each year at its home base of the Little Theatre in Athol Fugard (formerly Belmont) Terrace in Central.

The husband-and-wife team of Mark and Yolande won best director of the year and best production of the year for their work on the pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

“People enjoy it – it’s been very, very popular. We had 3 000 come through the show,” said Mark this week of the all-ages musical comedy presented just before Christmas.

“Every year the demand for a pantomime seems to be getting stronger – it’s now becoming a tradition.”

Judges Marlene Pieterse and Alyssa May Carvalho had the task of watching Pemads shows last year and deciding on winners.

Lesley Speyers won best actor of the year, Rose Cowpar won best actress, Arthur Daniels was best supporting actor and Vanessa Smith best supporting actress. Charl Vollgraaff was voted best novice performer.

Mark is also the chairman of Pemads, a non-profit organisation striving to promote and develop local talent and which is kept afloat thanks to a dedicated core of volunteers like him and Yolande. Both have day jobs – Mark works in sales and Yolande is a school librarian – and they are grateful for the support of their committee as well.

“We perform and direct and write – it’s a busy day!” said Mark of his after-hours passion, which he is fortunate to share with Yolande.

Due to demand from theatre audiences looking for frothy fun at year-end, the Farrows have already started working on a panto for 2018.

“We like putting a modern twist on the old standards and I can’t give you a title yet as we are still busy with the script, but we are definitely putting one on,” said Mark.

The 12th Night celebration is also when Pemads announces its showbiz calendar for the year.

“Robin Williams will be directing the Broadway musical Rent for us and we are also going to be presenting Iconic Broadway 2,” Mark said.

As with Iconic Broadway last year, Iconic Broadway 2 will again be devised and directed by Leslie Speyers, who won an award for his performance in the first show.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is up next, to be directed by Lesley Barnard who was one of the MCs at 12th Night.

“We also will be holding Kaleidoscope which is a very informal evening, almost like an open mic, where anything under the sun goes,” Mark said.

Organised by Jamie-Lee Reynolds, Pemads members and guests present a range of entertainment at these soirees which may include song, dance, one-act plays, skits, poems and monologues. People also bring picnic baskets and refreshments are usually on sale.

Then, as if that may not keep him busy enough, “we may also squeeze in a revue”, said Mark.

As one of the long-standing amateur dramatics societies in the city, Pemads is always looking for new talent to assist on or off stage.

For more information, contact Mark on 071-684-7191 or Yolande on 083-541-9178.

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